Byline: Joyce Barrett

WASHINGTON — Domestic textile industry advocates revived a measure Thursday that would toughen penalties against countries that violate U.S. textile trade laws and vowed to move it through Congress this year.
Sponsored by Sen. Wendell Ford (D., Ky.) and Rep. John Spratt (D., S.C.), the measure enjoys bipartisan support, but doesn’t have the backing of leaders of key House and Senate committees that could advance it. That, however, isn’t deterring sponsors of the measure, which would create a mechanism for the U.S. to retaliate unilaterally against violative trade partners.
“This is not protectionist,” Spratt said in a press conference. “We aren’t attempting to limit imports. We are attempting to open markets abroad. Surely, we can sell this agreement to the staunchest proponents of free trade in Congress.”
Identical to a plan introduced last year, the bill would, among other things, require textile pacts with countries that aren’t members of the World Trade Organization and whose textile-apparel imports exceed $100 million yearly. It would levy penalties against countries that permit transshipping and double the fines for violating textile trade law.
The measure enjoys broad industry support. Those attending the press conference included William Farley, Fruit of the Loom chairman, and representatives from Burlington Industries, American Textile Manufacturers Institute and Milliken & Co.

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