Tue, Aug 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Towel issue mishandled, TSU says

HUNG OUT TO DRY Legislators from the party said that local towel manufacturers have been the victims of the government's indulgence of cheap Chinese towel imports

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Yin Ling-ying, second left, yesterday displays several Chinese towels in a press conference held at the legislature, accusing the government of failing to deliver on its promise to local towel manufacturers to address the dumping of Chinese towels on the market.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

A legislator yesterday accused the government of going back on its promise to local towel manufacturers that it would deal with the dumping of Chinese towels on the local market -- a problem which prompted towelmakers to stage a protest in March -- under the auspices of the WTO.

"The government actually hasn't done anything to assist the local towel industry since Taiwan gained the legal right through WTO channels to impose safeguard measures," Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) told a press conference.

Under pressure from towelmakers and other local traditional manufacturers, who said that they were also being threatened by their counterparts in China, the government initiated an anti-dumping investigation on towel imports from China.

The towel dispute was Taiwan's first case against China since both countries entered the WTO in January 2002. The government found that China's towel imports constituted dumping and harmed Taiwan's towel industry.

"While the Ministry of Economic Affairs [MOEA] has filed a request for import-relief measures with the WTO and the Ministry of Finance [MOF] has decided to impose an anti-dumping tax on Chinese towel imports on a temporary basis, officials handled this case with a lazy and irresponsible attitude," Lai said.

She added, "The WTO granted Taiwan its request for import-relief measures on June 23, but MOEA officials have been delaying the implementation up until now."

Regarding anti-dumping duties, Lai said that the MOF had told Chinese towelmakers that they could avoid dumping duties if they submitted a "price undertaking," which would require them to raise the prices of their exports.

"Maybe Chinese towel exporters would like to sign a `price undertaking' on paper, but it's not certain they will really raise prices. Plus, the government doesn't have the ability to inspect the real prices on the market," Lai said.

Chu Chin-yuan (周清源), the chairman of a local towel manufacturing association, urged the government to demand that Chinese towelmakers put a "Made in China" label on their towel exports so that consumers can distinguish local towels from China-made towels.

"The MOEA officials initially instructed [Chinese towelmakers] to put on a label within three months, but they are now planning to extend the grace period to one year due to pressure from [Chinese] towel exporters, which will put local manufacturers in a very difficult situation," Chu said.

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