The current US tariff-cutting proposal is not practical and needs to be replaced with a different approach according to textile industry associations in Japan and the US who met in Washington DC last week.

Discussions between the Japan Textile Federation (JTF) and The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) focused on a number of critical issues affecting textile trade in the Doha Development Round of negotiations. They agreed on key objectives in market access, intellectual property protections and customs enforcement.

Mr Masaki Sakuri, a senior vice president and member of the board of JTF, stressed the importance of the textile industries of the major developed countries working together on a common agenda throughout the negotiations.

In addition, the delegations agreed that instead of the formula approach proposed in December by the US, the WTO market access negotiations on textiles and apparel should be separate from negotiations in any other sector. They also want the talks to insist that all countries eliminate all non-tariff barriers on textiles and apparel within 1-2 years of the conclusion of the negotiations; as well as address tariff reductions through a tariff harmonisation approach binding on all WTO members.

ATMI president Parks Shackelford expressed ATMI's grave concern about the US proposal to eliminate tariffs and said: "In its current form, the US proposal would cause irreparable harm to the US textile industry and our trading partners in NAFTA and the Caribbean region, as well as with future preferential trade partners."