By  on June 29, 1994

WASHINGTON -- Textiles and apparel will be the two domestic industries most hurt by increased imports and worldwide competition under the GATT Uruguay Round, according to a new report by the International Trade Commission.

The report predicts that the agreement will mean a 15 percent increase in U.S. apparel imports but gives no time frame for this development.

The report was prepared for the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, which now are doing preliminary work on the implementing legislation for the GATT agreement.

Low-end commodity-type apparel makers will be hurt the most from increased imports, the report further states, and employment reductions could amount to 15 percent.

Domestic producers of high-fashion, brand name apparel, dresses and hosiery "likely will resist substantial growth in import penetration," the report said. Also, apparel companies with Quick Response capabilities, strong brand name identification and consumer loyalty "likely will gain market share in the future as large retailers align themselves with reliable suppliers," it was forecast.

In the domestic textile industry, most of the job loss will occur in North and South Carolina among producers that

sell their products to U.S. apparel makers, the report said. Gains in U.S. textile exports, however, will occur in industrial fabrics; high value-added finished apparel fabrics, such as print fabrics and warp knits; specialty yarns and home furnishings.

U.S. textile and apparel makers both will benefit from better intellectual property rights protections under GATT, the report added.

Meanwhile, unions representing textile and apparel workers joined in a nationwide telephone lobbying campaign Tuesday to attempt to persuade members of the Senate to delay consideration of GATT until 1995. Estimates by the Citizens Trade Campaign -- a coalition of environmental, labor, farm, and religious groups -- appeared to overstate the number of calls made, however. A sampling of Senate offices showed that as few as a couple of calls to as many as 200 telephone calls were made, and a Capitol operator said the switchboard was not any busier than usual. The Citizens Trade Campaign, however, issued a release proclaiming that the calls jammed the switchboard and that more than 25,000 calls were made.Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor that it opposed linking labor and environmental standards to the GATT implementing legislation. The administration has proposed that a seven-year extension of fast-track negotiating authority be added to the GATT legislation.

While the administration did not specify labor and environmental goals, it would require the administration to consult with Congress on such standards before beginning negotiations.

The Chamber also wrote that it preferred to see fast track extended for only three years, with an option to renew for an additional three years. In another development, Sen. Russ Feingold (D., Wis.) is circulating a letter among his Senate colleagues that would urge President Clinton not to waive budget law but to find a way to pay for the estimated $12 billion in tariff revenue that would be lost during the first five years of GATT.

Feingold told WWD he thinks the GATT agreement is getting more attention on Capitol Hill as questions surface about its impact on U.S. business and the impact of the creation of the World Trade Organization under GATT.

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