Freeing Trade, Helping Workers

Congressman John Spratt and I sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative recently. We asked our colleagues to join us: We are writing to ask you to cosign the attached letter to the United States Trade Representative.The letter urges USTR to accomplish two objectives: 1) obtain a Special Textile Sectoral in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Round, and 2) insist on a textile safeguard system, or an extension of the current quotas as part of Vietnam's terms of accession to the WTO. Accomplishing these two objectives are vital steps to help ensure that more than half a million textile workers in the U.S. and tens of millions around the world keep their jobs and have an opportunity to compete against heavily-subsidized textile and apparel imports from China.



China and other countries are pushing for drastic cuts in U.S. textile tariffs as part of a formula approach under a broad industrial products classification. Such a formula approach would almost certainly push U.S. textile tariffs below five percent. Under such a proposal, the benefits of our preferential agreements with Africa, Central America, Mexico and other countries would be erased and imports of textiles and apparel from China would quickly displace imports from these countries, which are the largest customers for U.S. yarns and fabrics.

The concerns with Vietnam are very similar to those with China. Vietnam has a large and heavily-subsidized textile sector that utilizes anti-free market principles to underprice producers here in the United States and elsewhere. This has allowed Vietnam to increase its exports to the U.S. by more than 5000% in the last 4 years! Such a safeguard system was initiated as part of China's WTO accession agreement due to its non market economy status and a similar mechanism for Vietnam must be part of its accession agreement for the very same reasons.

Until we have eliminated the non-tariff barriers and trade distorting practices employed by many countries around the globe, especially China and Vietnam, we should not further expose U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers to heavily-subsidized imports from those countries.