WASHINGTON — Negotiators wrapped up two days of trade talks in Beijing Thursday, but offered no signs of progress, prompting U.S. textile groups to declare it a "collapse."
David Spooner, the head U.S. negotiator, said safeguards holding Chinese apparel and textile imports to 7.5 percent annual growth would continue to be applied "as appropriate" and gave no indication of when another round of talks would be held.
"Our overall goal, as we've said all along, is to reach a longer-term solution that will permit greater stability in textile and apparel trade," Spooner, who is special textile negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative's office, said in a statement.
Currently $1.9 billion worth of Chinese imports covered under nine safeguard petitions are being restricted, with about 10 other petitions coming up for decision by the end of November. Domestic producers have pushed for the safeguards, saying they cannot compete with imports that are unfairly subsidized by a number of Chinese government policies, including an undervalued currency.
Placing the scope and heft of the talks into stark relief, Commerce Department figures released Thursday showed China further solidified its hold on the apparel and textile import market with a 47.3 percent jump for August to 1.7 billion square meter equivalents, worth $2.34 billion.
"China returned to its position of delay and no compromise by insisting on terms for an agreement that were impossible for the U.S. government to accept and that would have been extremely damaging to the U.S. industry and its workers," Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said in a statement. At least 31 U.S. textile mills have been shuttered since a broader system of quotas was phased out in January.
Stephen Lamar, senior vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, an importing group that has opposed restrictions on China, said, "We would like to see them complete the talks and get an agreement."
In general, importers have pushed for a deal since safeguards can be applied unpredictably and wreak havoc on sourcing plans. However, they also are beginning to envision life with safeguards through 2008.
Peter McGrath, chairman of purchasing for J.C. Penney Purchasing Corp., said China might implement a system to control how goods leave the country, creating a more predictable environment for U.S. importers and Chinese factories even if safeguards remain in place."If the Chinese put that in play, then the level of comfort to the U.S. importer goes up quite a bit," said McGrath. "It appears the Chinese are now moving toward a visa system."
Many of the importers are in "wait and see" mode when it comes to the talks for a broader deal, said McGrath.
"I'm not sure at this point whether the Chinese are that motivated anymore," he said. "The Chinese and the U.S. are both tough negotiators. The U.S. is very used to getting its way and may not have the degree of leverage that it has had in the past."
Expectations were high going into Beijing, as progress at the previous round of talks, held in Washington late last month, gave the sense that a deal was within reach.
The two sides are still stuck on what kinds of goods would be included in a deal, how much imports of those goods would be allowed to grow and when an agreement would end, said trade specialists from both the importing and domestic manufacturing communities.
Held back somewhat by safeguard-induced embargoes, China still scored significant import increases in August in areas such as scarves, vests and coveralls, cotton nightwear and man-made fiber sweaters for women and girls.
But China isn't the only winner in the post-quota world.
Pakistan's apparel and textile imports shot up by 22 percent to 302.8 million SME, worth $275 million; India's imports grew by 18.5 percent to 209 million SME, worth $396.6 million, and Bangladesh mustered a 24.3 percent upswing to 123 million SME, worth $242.4 million.
Losing ground in August were South Korea, down 14 percent to 180.7 million SME, worth $186.5 million; Canada, down 14 percent to 261.6 SME, worth $249.5 million, and Mexico, slipping 5.9 percent to 341.7 million SME, worth $663.4 million.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)