The Global Alliance for Fair Textile Trade (GAFTT) today called on governments around the world to insist that textile issues are addressed in a Special Textile Sectoral (STS) in the Doha Development Round trade talks.

The group says the World Trade Organisation (WTO) needs to consider textiles and clothing as a separate entity to general trade issues because of its disproportionate share of exports from developing countries and LDCs and China's growing monopoly over the sector.

The textile and apparel sector employs more than 30 million people around the world, with most employment occurring in developing countries and LDCs.
 
Special consideration would allow all WTO member countries to deal with tariffs, non-tariff barriers and other concerns in a comprehensive manner in order to achieve an orderly and fair long-term development of trade in this critical sector.  
 
GAFTT says it members, who represent 97 textile and apparel groups from 55 countries, are urging their respective governments to make an STS a must-have requirement.

International trade officials are due to attend a meeting in Hong Kong on 13-18 December which could lay the foundations for the conclusion of the Doha talks aimed at reducing barriers to trade by the end of next year. New textile trade rules are being negotiated as part of the Doha Development Round.
 
 In 2003, data from the United Nations COMTRADE database showed textile and clothing products accounted for 10 per cent or more of imports by the World from each of 82 individual exporting countries, overseas territories, and dependencies from around the globe. Nearly 80 of those exporters were either developing countries or LDCs.