Byline: John Zaracostas

GENEVA — The International Textiles and Clothing Bureau has urged U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and her European Union and Canadian counterparts to accelerate the removal of restrictive import quotas on textiles and apparel.
The ITCB, in a letter sent on July 13 to Barshefsky, Canada’s Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, said that after 40 years of restrictions, “the case for some immediate steps towards meaningful liberalization is overwhelming.”
The letter, signed by Stuart Harbinson, chairman of the 24-member ITCB group, proposes that in light of the “meagre liberalization of quotas so far,” at least 50 percent of imports of products that were under specific quota restriction be liberalized by the start of stage three of the implementation of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Textiles and Clothing on Jan. 1, 2002.
The ITCB, which includes Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Mexico and Thailand, among others, also called for the implementation of increased growth rates for stage 3 of the ATC, “to be advanced from January 2002 to January 2000, and that the resulting rates be also increased to at least 6 percent.”
However, senior U.S. trade officials have repeatedly said the Clinton administration is not prepared to reopen the ATC deal brokered in the Uruguay Round liberalization talks. The aim of the ATC is to bring under the umbrella of WTO rules most global trade in textiles and apparel, worth annually about $331 billion, or 6.3 percent of total merchandise trade.

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