Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON — The European Union Wednesday announced it will eliminate import quotas on 62 categories of apparel and textiles — including women’s skirts as well as men’s and women’s undergarments and robes — beginning in 2002.
The trade liberalizing move was made in accordance with the World Trade Organization’s plan to end all apparel and textile quotas on Jan. 1, 2005. As part of this 10-year phaseout, WTO member countries have been eliminating these quotas in stages. Thirty-three percent of these goods will have been removed from import restraint after the first two stages are completed at the end of 2001.
The EU, in outlining its plan to remove a further 18 percent of the apparel-textile trade from quota, said the following products would be included beginning Jan. 1, 2002: women’s and girls’ skirts, including divided skirts, made of any fabric; women’s and girls’ pajamas, night-dresses, negligees, bathrobes and dressing gowns, made of any fabric, whether knitted or crocheted; and men’s and boys’ pajamas, night-shirts, bathrobes and dressing gowns, made of any fabric, knitted or crocheted.
Also included are women’s and girls’ and men’s and boys’ underwear, made of any fabric, whether knitted or crocheted; all knitted or crocheted gloves and mittens; all tracksuits made of cotton or manmade fiber; parkas, anoraks and wind jackets, knitted or crocheted, made from wool, cotton or manmade fiber; cotton, manmade fiber or wool curtains; and several dozen textile products.
During this same stage, the U.S. announced in 1995 that it will end quotas on a more limited number of apparel products, including knit gloves, dressing gowns, headwear, knit neckwear and tights as well as judo and karate uniforms.
However, this so-called integration schedule is based on 1990 trade levels, and analysts estimate that by the end of 2004, by volume, about 89 percent of the apparel and textile goods in commerce will still be under quotas. But the next day — Jan. 1, 2005 — all of these quotas are to end.
Assessing the EU’s announcement, Julia Hughes, Washington vice president for the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said these quota-ending steps “will be of some interest to U.S. retailers and manufacturers who sell into the European market and will be able to do so without having to deal with quotas, in less than two years.”

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