GENEVA, Switzerland — Reflecting mounting domestic political pressures, the Bush administration Monday came out swinging in the global trade talks on the volatile issue of textiles and apparel trade concerns.
This story first appeared in the July 17, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Peter Allgeier, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and lead negotiator in the Doha round of trade talks, charged developing nations with using World Trade Organization grievance procedures to try to reopen negotiations on already negotiated trade standards.
Allgeier defended the U.S.’s record on opening its market to foreign suppliers of textiles and apparel, and called for them to reciprocate in kind.
“The U.S. has been opening its markets in these areas, and frankly we would like to see some opening by some of the countries that are exporting,” he said at a press conference in Geneva. “There are areas that we are very competitive in in textiles, and we find tariff peaks in these markets.
“If one looks closely at some of the implementation proposals, you’d have to conclude that these are proposals to change the terms of previous agreements,” he continued. “In particular, one needs to be careful in looking at some of these proposals on textiles to see if these are really implementation issues or are these issues where someone would like to see a different agreement that was worked out in the Uruguay Round?”
Textile-exporting developing countries, led by Pakistan and India, have argued that rich countries such as the U.S. have not delivered the commercially meaningful market-opening commitments agreed to in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Textiles and Clothing for phasing out the restrictive import quota regime by 2005.
Poor exporting countries have made up-front movement on textiles by the end of this year a key condition if they are to negotiate issues of interest to rich countries.
Allgeier said, “A number of issues are frankly related to specific agreements that belong in the negotiations that are now under way.”
He said that the strong increases in imports of textiles and apparel into the U.S. since the creation of the WTO in 1994 has brought turmoil to the U.S. manufacturing industry and, “frankly, dislocation in our market.”
When the Uruguay Round was finalized in 1994, the U.S., he said, had over 1.5 million employees in textiles and apparel. At the end of June, there were 955,000 workers in those industries, according to the Labor Department.
“About a third of all our employment in this area has disappeared,” said Allgeier.”