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Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Textile competition may threaten US jobs, group warns


The US textile industry may shed as many as 630,000 jobs -- more than 60 percent of its domestic work force -- in 2005 and 2006 after the removal of quotas limiting Chinese imports, an industry group warned.

As many as 1,300 textile plants in the US may close during that period after quotas on 29 textile items are scrapped at the end of next year, according to a report by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

US textile and apparel makers said last month they plan to ask the Bush administration to levy tariffs on Chinese clothing imports under new rules set up by the Commerce Department. The companies, which say China sells goods below cost, vow to make it an issue in next year's presidential elections if the administration doesn't take action.

The US textile industry already lost 267,700 jobs from January 2001 through this May, with hundreds of factories shut, according to the association. Chinese sales of textiles to the US rose by 63 percent to US$3.15 billion last year.

After the quotas are ended, up to US$42 billion in orders may also shift to China from other countries, including Caribbean nations, Mexico and the EU, the report said.

Quotas limiting Chinese exports under the Multi Fiber Agreement are due to expire at the end of next year. China's textile trade association said it would be willing to consider voluntary quotas. Chinese imports will still be subject to some tariffs.

A coalition of six US trade groups, including the National Cotton Council and the American Yarn Spinners Association, said they will petition the government later this month to levy tariffs on specific Chinese imports, which include cotton robes, brassieres and knitted fabrics.

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