By and  on January 25, 2002

NEW YORK -- In an effort to improve the chances of industrialized nations selling fabrics globally, textile-maker organizations from the U.S., European Union, Canada, Mexico and Turkey have agreed to take a unified lobbying stance with their governments regarding the World Trade Organization.

The groups -- the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, Euratex, the Canadian Textiles Institute, Canaintex of Mexico and the Istanbul Textile & Apparel Exporters Association -- disclosed their five-point agreement in a joint statement released by the ATMI on Thursday.

They said they "agreed to address the massive imbalance between trade opportunities existing in developed importing countries compared to the closed markets in developing exporting countries, particularly in Asia."

Their lobbying objectives regarding the WTO are:

To open the markets of developing nations to imports of fabric, by lowering tariffs and nontariff barriers.

To stick to the current schedule of abolishing all quotas on textiles and clothing by 2005, rather than speeding it up as developing nations have requested.

To insure that the organization maintains its antidumping and antisubsidy rules.

To end the "de facto" practice of not punishing developing nations for infringing on intellectual property rights.

To put an end to illegal transshipments and smuggling of textile and apparel products.

Those points were hashed out at a meeting in Washington last week attended by representatives of the five groups, as well as trade officials of the U.S. and Mexican governments and the European Commission.

In banding together, the nations are taking a similar approach to what developing nations have done in their quest to have the WTO speed up its current quota phaseout.

Carlos Moore, executive vice president of the ATMI, said the agreement was primarily intended to highlight what he called the unfair trade stances of nations such as India, which is pushing for more market access for its fabrics, but which the ATMI contends has high tariff and nontariff barriers to imports.

"What we did was look at the big developing country exporters who are hiding behind their own closed markets," Moore said. "We felt that had to be the primary objective of the market-access negotiations. It's become so unfair and inequitable that something has to be done."

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