The head of a US apparel industry trade group is calling on the government to reject a request for threat-based safeguard quotas on Chinese-made wool trousers.

Kevin M Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) on Monday submitted comments to the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) arguing that the requests for new quotas don't contain enough evidence to be approved.

The US Court of International Trade on 30 December 2004 imposed a preliminary injunction prohibiting the US government from accepting, reviewing, or considering this petition or any comments relating to this petition. 

As a result, commented Burke, "we view the comment period as suspended. 

"However, given that CITA has not provided the public with any confirming guidance to that effect as of the deadline date initially established for this petition, we are submitting comments in order to preserve our rights under CITA's current China textile safeguard procedures."

Commenting on the petition itself, Burke stated that: "Once again, the petitioners have failed to substantiate the claim that imports of the subject products from China have adversely affected, or threaten to do so in the future, the US wool trousers industry."
Burked continued: "US textile and apparel manufacturers, until 1 January, were the most protected industry in the United States and, due to high tariffs, still remain one of the most protected today. 

"Despite over 40 years of worldwide quotas (in addition to import tariffs averaging 17 per cent), this industry has lost over 350,000 jobs since 2001 alone. Since 1990 the industry has lost over one million jobs. Today, over 96 per cent of the apparel sold in the United States is imported.

"Obviously, these 'protections' have done absolutely nothing to protect this industry.  Why? Because the industry has relied on the protections instead of taking a proactive approach to become more competitive and develop and promote strong trading relationships with customers in this hemisphere. 

"Instead of using over 40 years of protections to take such an approach, some in this industry continue to this day to ask for more quotas and more protection.

"I have to ask, therefore, that if 40 years of quotas on dozens of countries worldwide did not bring wool trouser production back to the United States, why would one-year's worth of quotas on one country alone, China, do so, especially when the rest of the world is quota free?"