August 1, 2005

US says could seek China textile deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on
Monday it was delaying a decision on whether to restrict
additional imports of clothing from China so it could consult
with industry and lawmakers about whether to seek a
comprehensive textile trade pact with Beijing.

"Today's decision will allow us time to engage in
substantive discussions with our domestic textile and apparel
industries and members of Congress on whether there is interest
in a broader textile agreement with China," U.S. Commerce
Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said in a statement.

The United States has restricted imports of billions of
dollars worth of clothing from China this year using an
anti-surge "safeguard" mechanism Beijing accepted when it
joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The U.S. textile industry has repeatedly called on the Bush
administration to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with
China governing textile trade through the end of 2008. The
United States has raised that idea with China, but never
formally proposed it, administration officials said.

The decision to consult with U.S. stakeholders on whether
to formally seek a deal with China follows a vote last week in
the U.S. House of Representatives on the U.S.-Central American
Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), where some textile state
lawmakers helped provide the margin of victory.

The Bush administration said it was delaying until Aug. 31
a decision on safeguard requests in six categories: men's and
boys' wool trousers, cotton and synthetic dressing gowns and
robes, cotton and synthetic bras, cotton and synthetic
sweaters, knit fabric and certain synthetic filament fabric.

It also announced it had agreed to consider industry
petitions asking for safeguard curbs in five other areas:
cotton, wool and synthetic socks, women's and girls' cotton and
synthetic woven shirts, cotton and synthetic skirts, cotton and
synthetic nightwear and cotton and synthetic swimwear.