Blog: Leonie BarrieNumber crunching China trade

Leonie Barrie | 10 October 2008

The decision by a US congressman to call on the government to start monitoring Chinese imports of textiles and clothing certainly makes for an eye-catching headline: indeed, it’s the top story on just-style today. But reading between the lines, is it really asking for anything more than is already happening?

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charles B Rangel (D-NY) wants the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to collect data on the volume, value, unit value and import market share of the 34 customs categories of Chinese textile and apparel products currently under safeguard restrictions.

His request – backed by others in the textile community – is driven by concerns that there will be a dramatic increase in import levels and a drop in prices when existing safeguard quotas on some Chinese textile and apparel products expire on 31 December.

Chairman Rangel also wants the ITC to provide preliminary Customs data once every two weeks and final data once a month, post these reports on its website, and also provide historical data on the same articles going back to January 2003. 
Oh, and he wants these reports “until such time that the Committee terminates or amends this request.”

Now I could be mistaken, but isn’t this information already available from the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel

Rengel is also at pains to point out that although the Committee oversees the administration of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws, and could initiate a safeguard investigation “as provided under China's Protocol of Accession to the WTO,” he simply wants the numbers.

He doesn’t want any analysis of the import data; he just wants to watch what’s happening.

“The Committee understands that these data already have been compiled,” the letter says. “The Committee simply seeks that the data be reported in the format requested.”

Perhaps the one thing he’s not asking for is the one thing US protectionists want: action against China.



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