WASHINGTON — Textiles and apparel are once again being used as a bargaining chip in foreign relations.
As the week drew to a close and a potential war with Iraq seemed closer, domestic textile producers, importers and retailers anxiously awaited the outcome of ongoing talks between Turkey and the U.S. over a proposed multibillion-dollar economic aid package to Turkey that includes textile and apparel trade breaks.
The Bush administration has not disclosed the details of the economic package, which is aimed at compensating Turkey for losses incurred in a possible war with Iraq, but Turkey’s foreign minister said last weekend that textile and apparel quotas are part of the discussions.
Industry sources, some of whom have been briefed by Capitol Hill lawmakers, said the U.S. offered Turkey duty-free and quota-free access for textiles and apparel, but only for products using U.S. yarn and fabric. In addition, sources said the U.S. offered to temporarily waive a requirement that the U.S. military buy only American-made components for military uniforms, footwear and parachutes, which would enable Turkey to sell apparel to the U.S. for military use.
Turkish and U.S. officials have been unable to reach an agreement for weeks on a package totaling a reported $5 billion in aid and $10 billion in loans and that has delayed Turkey’s vote on whether to allow the deployment of U.S. troops and stranded U.S. ships loaded with military equipment off the coast of Turkey.
Turkey’s Parliament once again postponed a vote on the deployment of more than 60,000 U.S. combat troops Thursday and moved the vote to Saturday.