By  on March 9, 2005

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, defending a lawsuit that challenges the government’s authority to impose certain quotas on China, argued in court papers that the statements of three top Bush administration officials were “irrelevant and improper.”

In a response filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, USA-ITA lawyers said the written remarks by Grant Aldonas, undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department; Josette Sheeran Shiner, deputy U.S. trade representative, and John B. Taylor, undersecretary for international affairs of the Treasury Department, should be stricken from the record on grounds they are an “irrelevant and improper presentation of new evidence on appeal.”

USA-ITA lawyers said the Court of International Trade in Manhattan, which is considering the suit, did not “abuse its discretion” in issuing a preliminary injunction barring the government from considering or accepting the threat-based China safeguard petitions.

Justice Department lawyers argued in the appeal that the trade court erred on several key issues in determining to impose an injunction. The government also has argued that USA-ITA does not have the right to challenge the government’s deliberations and the trade court does not have jurisdiction to consider the lawsuit. The government also said the federal interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements is exempt from the procedural requirements of the federal Administrative Procedures Act because its decisions involve foreign policy.

The legal tug-of-war being played out in courtrooms in New York and Washington stems from an action brought by the USA-ITA, which sued five federal agencies in the Court of International Trade in Manhattan on Dec. 1. The group alleged that the government violated its own published regulations, as well as the Administrative Procedures Act, when it agreed to accept safeguard petitions based on the threat of market disruption because of expected surges of Chinese apparel and textile imports.

There are two pending decisions: the government’s motion to dismiss the entire lawsuit before the trade court, and  the government’s motion at the Court of Appeals to stay the injunction. At the center of the debate is a safeguard mechanism to which China agreed when it joined the World Trade Organization, which allows an importing nation to impose one-year quotas when it determines Chinese textiles and apparel exports are threatening to cause or are causing market disruption.

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