By  on March 9, 1994

WASHINGTON -- The Uruguay Round GATT agreement came under pressure Tuesday from a coalition of U.S. manufacturing associations, including textile and apparel, seeking tougher rules against dumping, and foreign subsidies.

In a Capitol Hill press conference, members of the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws said the tougher protections for United States manufacturers are needed since nearly every one of the GATT round agreements would weaken U.S. laws against unfair trade practices.

The more than 800 antidumping and countervailing duty cases filed since 1980 illustrate the importance of tough protections in saving U.S. jobs, the committee members said.

Other industries represented in the coalition are steel, furniture, cookware, ball bearings, cement, lime, automotive, luggage, flat glass, semiconductors and electronics.

While the semiconductor, steel and ball bearing industries have been especially plagued with illegal dumping by foreign competitors, the domestic textile industry also has been bothered by the practice.

Currently, more than 12 countervailing duty and antidumping orders, primarily involving Far East countries, are in effect involving textiles and apparel.

Rep. Ralph Regula (R., Ohio), who supports the group's efforts and attended its press conference, acknowledged that time was running out to influence the Clinton administration's draft of implementing legislation, which could be sent to Capitol Hill as early as next month.

Regula is sponsor of a House bill that would toughen countervailing and antidumping laws and has in the past weeks been recruiting support for his plan from various House caucuses.

Rep. John Spratt (D., S.C.), chairman of the House Textile Caucus, said his group would not sign onto Regula's bill because it had its own concerns about market access. Also, the textile caucus did not want to imply that by endorsing Regula's bill it supports GATT while it's waging its own campaign with the White House on its list of demands.

The caucus wrote Clinton last week seeking a meeting on its requests, but as yet has no date set for the encounter.

A spokesman for the American Textile Manufacturers Institute said that as a member of the Committee, it was an advocate of tougher antidumping laws. The spokesman added that ATMI has not yet taken a position on GATT.The Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws differs from the recently formed Alliance for GATT, in that the businesses composing the alliance are pleased with the GATT round and have no list of recommendations for change.

In addition to the ATMI, textile and apparel-oriented members of the new group include the American Fiber Manufacturers Association, American Yarn Spinners Association, Clothing Manufacturers Association of America, Footwear Industries of America, ILGWU, National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers, National Cotton Council and the Textile Distributors Association.

Later in the day at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Trade and Environment, economist Jacques J. Gorlin said the intellectual property provisions in GATT were not perfect but were acceptable.

Shortcomings, Gorlin said, are the "overly long and discriminatory transition periods before the developing countries have to undertake their obligations." Gorlin continued, saying that exceptions to national treatment of all holders of intellectual property rights could cost the U.S. entertainment industry millions in lost revenue.

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