US textile, apparel and fibre producing trade associations yesterday filed four new safeguard petitions covering eight categories to limit the growth of US textile and apparel imports from China. 

The industry also said that it had refiled a petition on curtains on June 22 that the US government rejected for technical reasons on June 21.

The categories covered by this latest filing are: cotton/man-made fibre non-knit shirts (categories 341/641); cotton/man-made fibre skirts (342/642); cotton/man-made fibre pyjamas/nightwear (351/651); cotton/man-made fibre swimwear (359S/659S); and cotton/man-made fibre curtains (369/666). Swimwear and curtains are part of larger catchall categories, so the petitions on these products cover only a part of each of the categories listed.

Figures from the US Office of Textiles and Apparel show year-to-date increases in the shirt categories were 463 per cent, skirts were up 879 per cent, and pyjamas/nightwear imports rose by 647 per cent.    

Combined US imports in the 10 categories covered totalled $6.4 billion in 2004, with imports from China accounting for $944 million.
 
The value of the Chinese imports covered by the petitions account for 5.3 per cent of the $17.8 billion in textile and apparel imports from China and 1.05 per cent of the $89.7 billion in imports from the world (including China) in 2004. 
 
In terms of the $196.7 billion in US imports of all goods from China in 2004, these petitions affect only about 0.48 per cent of that trade. 

The Bush Administration has already approved seven safeguards in 2005, covering men's and boys' cotton and manmade fibre shirts (340/640), manmade fibre trousers (647/648), manmade fibre knit shirts and blouses (638/639), combed cotton yarn (301), cotton knit shirts and blouses (category 338/339), cotton trousers (category 347/348), and cotton and manmade fibre underwear (category 352/652).

American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) executive director Auggie Tantillo said more petitions will be filed later this year. 
 
"The US textile industry will keep filing petitions until the United States and China reach and a comprehensive agreement to moderate the growth of Chinese textile and apparel imports to a reasonable level through the end of 2008."