Byline: Joyce Barret

WASHINGTON — Fourteen members of the House and six Senators wrote to Commerce Secretary Ron Brown last week urging a faster quota phaseout on textiles and apparel under the GATT Uruguay Round than that prescribed by the administration’s Committee for Implementation of Textile Agreements.
Organized by the International Mass Retail Federation and the National Retail Federation, the bipartisan letters are part of a concerted campaign by retailers.
“We hope that the administration can devise an integration list which represents a balance of interests and avoids needless years of protection and higher consumer costs,” the House letter said.
The Senate letter said that based on the first list of products moved at the start of this year into the 10-year quota phaseout and the proposed lists for the second and third phases, retailers “are concerned that CITA is not adhering to the spirit of the Uruguay Round agreement.”
The letter said, “For example, under the proposal, the administration would maintain 89 percent of all clothing import quotas until the year 2005, making gradual adjustment impossible. In addition, we fear that other countries will follow the U.S. example, thereby gutting the agreement’s benefits to consumers.”
The letters follow a day-long hearing held by CITA March 20, during which retailers, domestic manufacturers, importers and organized labor had their say on the quota phaseout integration. The domestic textile industry is seeking the slower phaseout. The proposed CITA lists are to be final on May 1.
The day after the hearing, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said the GATT integration schedule would not be drastically changed but would only have some technical adjustments. His remarks angered retailers, who complained that if the administration already has decided not to change the integration schedule, it has made a “sham” of the CITA hearing. Congress required CITA to hold such hearings as part of the GATT implementing bill in an attempt to make its decisions more public.
Representatives signing the letter included Sam Gibbons (D., Fla.), former Ways and Means chairman and longtime chairman of the House Trade Subcommittee; Robert Matsui (D., Calif.), a former Trade Subcommittee chairman; Bill Archer (R., Tex.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Phil Crane (R., Ill.), chairman of the House Trade Subcommittee; Jim Kolbe (R., Ariz.), who helped the administration win GOP votes for the GATT Uruguay Round, and House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R., Tex.).
Also signing the House letter were Barbara Kennelly (D., Conn.), Robert Torricelli (D., N.J.), Wally Herger (R., Calif.), Jim Ramstad (R., Minn.), Dick Zimmer (R., N.J.), Jennifer Dunn (R., Wash.), Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Sam Johnson (R., Tex.).
The Senate letter was signed by Bob Packwood (R., Ore.), chairman of the Finance Committee; Robert Bennett (R., Utah); Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Trade Subcommittee chairman; Bill Bradley (D., N.J.); Max Baucus (D., Mont.), former Trade Subcommittee chairman, and William Roth Jr. (R., Del.). — Fairchild News Service