Blog: Leonie BarriePolitical gains

Leonie Barrie | 25 October 2004

The decision by the US trade administration to impose threat-based safeguards on Chinese sock imports has coincided with reports from China’s official news agency that friction over textile exports is likely to top the country’s list of trade troubles next year. But it’s not just China that’s annoyed with the stance taken by some US textile groups; closer to home there’s exasperation at what seems to be a distinct willingness to protect American workers ahead of the election.

Julia K Hughes from the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) – who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year in Guatemala – hits the nail on the head with her observation that the sock safeguard decision was reached by grouping together socks made from wool and manmade fibre – where quotas have been lifted, and Chinese imports have risen sharply – with cotton socks, where only the threat of a surge exists.

“Based on this, you'd have to conclude that no request [for safeguards] will ever be rejected,” she said.

And of course you have to ask where the US industry would be today if all its lobbying energy was instead diverted on becoming competitive, innovative and responsive to its customers.


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