TEXTILE-STATE REPRESENTATIVES SEEK TO PREVENT CBI PARITY

Byline: Joyce Barrett

WASHINGTON — Fearful that a plan to broaden trade benefits to the Caribbean Basin Initiative countries could be attached to a budget bill, southern textile-state House members are calling on President Clinton to stop such a move.
In a strongly worded letter being circulated among House members for signatures, L.F. Payne (D., Va.) and John Spratt (D., S.C.) say, “We do not think that CBI parity merits consideration. We emphatically do not think that it should be sneaked through Congress by burying it in an enormous budget bill.”
CBI parity would give the 24 island nations textile and apparel trade privileges equivalent to those given Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Payne and Spratt have ardently opposed broadening Caribbean trade privileges in defense of apparel makers in their districts. Their letter cited trade statistics they say proves there is no need to expand Caribbean trade benefits: “In 1994, CBI countries shipped $4.6 billion in textile and apparel products to the United States — twice the volume shipped from Mexico. This year, shipments will exceed $5 billion. Even without the advantages of CBI parity, the Caribbean ranks as our largest source of textile/apparel imports after China.”
The letter also threatens the administration that if CBI parity is included in a budget bill, it could cost the administration much-needed Democratic votes.
The letter is expected to go to the White House this week. A Republican staffer said House Trade Subcommittee chairman Phil Crane (R., Ill.) is considering attaching a CBI parity proposal to the budget. — Fairchild News Service

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