GENEVA — Turkey’s latest proposal Thursday in global trade talks being held here on reducing tariffs has called for textiles and apparel to be treated separately from other industrial sectors, generating support from the U.S. and opposition from developing nations, including China, senior diplomats said.
The three-page text recommends harmonization of product categories from silk to textile home furnishings.
Trade diplomats said the proposal, unveiled during a closed-door meeting, was well received by U.S. special textile negotiator Scott Quesenberry, the European Union and small textile exporters such as El Salvador, Jordan, Tunisia and Mauritius.
Quesenberry was said to agree with the product coverage suggested and added that what the U.S. expects from textiles and apparel is “reciprocity,” Western and Asian trade diplomats who took part in the meeting said. Quesenberry could not be reached for comment.
“The U.S. was quite explicit that it’s supporting this [Turkish] initiative,” said a trade envoy from a textile-exporting Asian country critical of the Turkish move.
The Turkish plan got a negative response from many major developing countries, led by China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Argentina and Taiwan, as well as from Hong Kong, said people familiar with the meeting.
Hong Kong argued that the proposal goes against the agreed mandate for the so-called non-agricultural market access talks to follow a broad-formula approach, and warned it could have a spillover effect into other sectors. China, India and Indonesia also made strong comments critical of the Turkish proposal.
After the meeting, a senior Chinese official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that if textiles and apparel are carved out, “I don’t think there will be a conclusion of the [Doha] round. That will definitely not be acceptable.”
He said the July 2004 World Trade Organization framework accord that helped restart the Doha talks after their collapse during the Cancun summit in September 2003 made explicit that there would be no exclusion of any sector from the market access formula and added that “that should be respected by all.”
A senior Turkish official, who also asked not to be identified, said, “We have just started, but we are determined.”
“The needs of the textiles and clothing sectors, which are unique by nature, can only be addressed through a comprehensive approach beyond a general formula,” Turkey said in its proposal.
The Turkish official said all the major textile and apparel producers “should be in this; otherwise it would not work.”
Meanwhile, seven transatlantic retailer and importer groups, including the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the American Apparel & Footwear Association and Europe’s EuroCommerce, sent a letter to WTO ambassadors Wednesday urging them not to support a separate textiles and apparel initiative.