Blog: Leonie BarrieGoodbye Vietnam?

Leonie Barrie | 2 June 2006

Now that China is no longer enemy number one – at least while its exports to the US continue to be capped in several key categories, although we can be sure the import figures in other categories will continue to be scrutinised – US trade lobbyists are now turning their attention to Vietnam.

Accusations that Vietnam heavily subsidises its textile and apparel sector are key to the trade group’s calls for a safeguard clause in the country’s planned WTO accession document. But it seems to have overlooked the fact that Vietnam has scrapped plans to invest US$4bn in its textile and garment industry to avert these very allegations.

And yet again we’re hearing comments that “this deal is a double loser,” damaging not only the “hard-hit” US textile industry that these lobbyists represent but will more than likely lead to substantial job losses in Mexico and Central America. Some textile groups have threatened to “actively oppose” any new trade talks unless there are continued restraints on apparel and textile imports from Vietnam – but surely this stance will stifle exports further in the very countries the lobbyists now say they’re trying to protect?

And why not throw another contentious issue into the melting pot just for good measure? Illegal immigration is the hottest issue on Capitol Hill right now and this deal directly exacerbates the problem says AMTAC executive director Auggie Tantillo. “A congressman that votes for this deal might as well be putting his name in neon lights saying that he supports more illegal immigration.”

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