Blog: Leonie BarrieWhat's in a word...or two?

Leonie Barrie | 27 February 2009

What a difference a word makes. Well two words actually.

This clause was included in a House appropriations report that came out last year but was never enacted, at the request of US yarn and fabric makers seeking evidence that Chinese imports may be dumped:

“Import Monitoring – The Committee expects ITA [the International Trade Commission] to undertake apparel import monitoring, including socks, focusing on prices of imports from China and Vietnam and whether their industries are illegally pricing products and dumping in the US market.”

And here’s the version that appears in the 2009 appropriations bill, which is causing great concern to US importers and retailers:

“Import monitoring – ITA is expected to undertake apparel import monitoring, focusing on prices of imports from China and Vietnam and whether their state-run industries are illegally pricing products and dumping in the US market.”

This second version is arguably more provocative because it now adds the words “state-run industries.” And it’s a point with which many of the multinationals invested in China and Vietnam would take strong issue.

The bill also raises the interesting prospect that there might eventually be two monitoring programs on Chinese textile and apparel imports into the US. After all, one is already underway by the ITC following a request from the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee at the end of last year.

Again this was at the request of the US yarn and fabric industry. But it now seems objective data filed every two weeks isn’t enough, particularly since the industry itself has to petition for duties against Chinese companies if it is unfairly damaged by a surge in imports.

What a formal import monitoring programme means, however, is that the US government is allowed to start and fund legal proceedings for investigating the case for anti-dumping duty, as well as short-circuiting the long-drawn-out process.

It always seemed probable that calls for a formal Import Monitoring Program on imports from China are unlikely to go away. And the mere threat of protectionist actions from America's yarn and fabric producers could be enough to cause US importers and retailers to act with caution when placing orders in China.


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