PACT OPENS INDIA MARKET TO U.S. APPAREL, TEXTILES
Byline: Jim Ostroff
WASHINGTON — The U.S. and India reached an agreement Saturday that will open the Indian market to American apparel and textiles for the first time.
U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor termed the accord “a landmark agreement,” noting it “represents the first time that U.S. exports of textiles and clothing to India will be permitted.”
Following four days of talks that ended Friday night, India agreed to end its outright ban on the importation of apparel and textile products. U.S.manufacturers of these products will be able to obtain a Special Import License from India’s government.
In addition, India agreed that by Jan. 1, 1998, it will permit the importation of apparel fabrics and home furnishings fabrics without obtaining special permits. By Jan. 1, 2000, apparel could be exported without the need to obtain special import permits from India.
Also, India agreed to reduce from 70 percent to 35 percent its import duties on apparel and home furnishings. These duty reductions will be made in equal increments between this year and 2002. India also said it would from 65 percent to 30 percent its import duties on apparel fabrics and reduce them to 20 percent for most yarns.
U.S. textile and apparel firms for several years vigorously urged the U.S. to push India, as well as Pakistan and Bangladesh, to open their markets, contending these countries could prove lucrative outlets for American clothing, fabrics and yarns. All of the world’s major trading nations now have signed market access accords with the U.S. Rita Hayes, a deputy assistant Commerce secretary for textiles, and Jennifer Hillman, the chief U.S. textile negotiator, declined to comment on the agreement.
However, William J. Armfield 4th, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute’s president, hailed it as a breakthrough for the U.S. textile industry. Armfield, who also is vice chairman of Unifi Inc., Greensboro,N.C., noted: “The Indian market of some 300 million middle-and-upper-class customers offers our industry the opportunity to increase exports significantly, thereby offsetting some of the adverse impact of increased imports as U.S. textile and apparel quotas are liberalized.” — Fairchild News Service