WASHINGTON — Egypt, Nigeria, India and Brazil maintain some of the highest trade barriers on apparel and textiles, which the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative underscored in its annual report on foreign trade barriers released Tuesday.

The 2003 report, mandated by Congress, lists unfair trade practices and barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services and farm products from 56 trading partners in each region of the world, and profiles policies restricting market access.

One U.S. trade official, who spoke about background during a teleconference Tuesday, said officials use "all the tools at their disposal," such as consultations, before they resort to litigation through the World Trade Organization dispute-settlement process to reduce barriers.

In the apparel and textile sector, Nigeria imposed a new textile ban on imports of printed textiles sold in Nigeria as "African prints," which the U.S. does not supply but which other African countries import. In addition, Nigeria placed an import ban on textiles containing "hazardous chemicals such as chlorides" in early 2002.

The U.S. will hold a meeting in Nigeria this summer to address foreign trade barriers, the official said.

Brazil was singled out for banning imports of used clothing. Brazil also applies additional import taxes and charges that "can effectively double the actual cost of importing textile products into Brazil,"the report said.

Egypt lifted its ban on apparel imports on Jan. 1, 2002 but "put in place excessive specific rate duties on over 1,000 categories of clothing, effectively excluding imports from the market," according to the report.

Despite India’s reduction of tariffs on 195 apparel and textile products in October 2000, the country remains "one of the most heavily protected textile markets in the world," according to the U.S. textile industry.

In June 2001, Kenya imposed a 35 percent duty on imported fabrics, up from 25 to 30 percent, to protect its local textile industry. Fiber used in textile factories is not subject to a duty, while the duty on yarn is 20 percent.

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