Wed, Oct 24, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Clothing import bans may be eased

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH STAFF WRITER

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislative caucus convener Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) yesterday said that the TSU would ask Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) to step down if the ministry did not suspend its planned policy of relaxing a partial ban on imports of Chinese-made clothing to Taiwan.

Lo made the remarks during a press conference at the TSU legislative caucus office yesterday morning.

Lo's remarks came after the Chinese-language United Daily News reported yesterday that the Ministry of Economic Affairs' (MOEA) Bureau of Foreign Trade said it was planning to lift restrictions on the import of 54 kinds of clothes manufactured in China, including wool and cotton suits, coats and pants.

The report said that when organizations and businesspeople in the industry heard of the plans, they protested against it, expressing concern that it would impact on the clothes industry in Taiwan. The bureau decided to postpone its decision until it reaches a consensus with the local industry.

"If they do not change their mind, we may encourage our fellow manufacturers to petition the ministry and ask Chen to step down," Lo said.

Lo, citing statistics, said more than 100,000 workers are employed in the domestic clothing business and that these jobs will be in serious jeopardy if the ministry lifts the ban on Chinese-made clothing in the near future.

"It's the ministry's job to protect our own workers," Lo said.

A bureau official explained in the report that the plan did not include clothes that were not allowed to be imported. Rather, the 54 types of clothing in question are already allowed to be imported under certain conditions. The bureau plans to relax the restrictions so that the clothes can be imported unconditionally.

The official was quoted as saying that 82 percent of the products produced by Taiwan's spinning and weaving industry are exported, about 40 percent of it to China. Taiwan imports fabric and clothing worth NT$70 billion (US$2.1 billion) per year, NT$20 billion of which is from China.

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