Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON — The apparel items on the U.S. government’s target list of Chinese imports threatened with massive penalty imports of up to 100 percent are basically accessories.
As reported, the sanctions are being proposed under Section 301 of U.S. trade law to halt what the U.S. charges is “rampant piracy” of U.S. intellectual property, such as movies, music and computer software.
The list of targets, released Saturday, covers $2.8 billion worth of imports from China. After public hearings set for Jan. 24 and 25, the list will be pared to imports worth about $1 billion, and the sanctions could be imposed any time after Feb. 4. However, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor also reported that China has delivered a new set of negotiating proposals on the issue and suggested resuming talks in mid-January. Two previous U.S. threats to impose sanctions on Chinese goods over alleged trade abuses were settled amicably at deadline.
Chinese consumer electronics comprise about $1 billion worth of the goods on the target list, followed by approximately $600 million in furniture. Far down the list, with no dollar trade estimates are Chinese-made gloves and mittens of cotton or wool, silk handkerchiefs, scarves, shawls, mufflers and veils. Virtually all leather footwear is included, too.
As might be expected, the threatened sanctions got a mixed reaction among U.S. apparel manufacturing interests and importers.
The action drew praise from Larry K. Martin, the new American Apparel Manufacturers Association president.
“It shows the U.S. government is willing to take action to stop the ripoff of American intellectual property,” he said. He noted that while the bulk of the goods targeted in the action are in consumer electronics, “our hope is that the U.S. will act another time on trademark infringement of U.S. apparel.”
Laura Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, took an opposite view.
“Once again, this administration is trying to bang China over the head with imported goods such as accessories and footwear,” Jones said. “The use of 301 Gestapo tactics will not solve the problem at hand and risks a trade war with China in which the only losers will be U.S. consumers.”
She added silk apparel likely would have been targeted if it had not been brought under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement last January. — Fairchild News Service