WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's proposed $1.5 trillion budget for fiscal 1995, submitted to Congress Monday, affects the textile and apparel industry on several fronts. It takes aim at a couple of research programs, while beefing up general funding for worker retraining and export promotion.

Clinton proposes no broad taxes to pay for spending increases but does call for hikes in 30 user fees, including the U.S. Customs merchandise processing fee charged to importers. The fee would go from 0.019 percent of the import value to 0.021 percent.

Proposed spending reductions are spread across many government programs and include funding cuts for the Tailored Clothing Technology Corp., a research consortium the textile and apparel industries have said is key to maintaining competitiveness in the world market.

Clinton would eliminate, as Presidents Bush and Reagan both tried to do, $3.4 million allocated to TC2, which helps develop new systems to make the production, assembly and sale of textile and apparel products less costly. The consortium receives most of its funding from private industry. Since the early Eighties, Congress always has restored funding for TC2.

Clinton also proposed to cut $1.5 million from the $9 million allocated for the National Textile Center University Consortium, which conducts similar research. Both consortiums are located in Raleigh, N.C.

The President, who has tied his job-creating policies to the goal of making U.S. industries more technologically efficient, wants to spend the government's high-tech dollars on more broad-based research.

The budget does make good on Clinton's promise to the House Textile Caucus by requesting that 100 new Customs workers be assigned to textile and apparel enforcement -- 50 to insure that the complex North American Free Trade Agreement rules of origin are met and the other 50 to help police foreign apparel imports to detect transshipment.

Clinton made the promise in a Nov. 16 letter to House Textile Caucus chairman John Spratt (D., S.C.) in exchange for his support of NAFTA.

Within the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, the White House is proposing to increase funding by about $16 million to $262.5 million. Most of this increase would be spent to develop programs to promote U.S. exports, mainly in Latin America and the Far East.Funding for the International Trade Commission, the agency that makes final determinations of illegal dumping by foreign manufacturers, would increase to $45.2 million, from $43.5 million this year.

At the Labor Department, money targeted to assist workers displaced by imports has found its way into an overall program of job training and assistance.

On the enforcement end, the administration proposes to add 355 new positions. These would include 132 workers at OSHA and 23 employees in the Wage and Hour Division, which polices violations of minimum wage, child labor and other laws. Maria Echeveste, wage and hour administrator, said one of these positions would be added to the Los Angeles office, which spends a lot of time policing the garment industry.


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