An injunction filed on Wednesday by a US trade group whose members include JC Penney and Liz Claiborne hopes to block the US government's Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) from considering requests for new limits on Chinese textile and clothing imports.

The US Association of Importers of Textile and Apparel (USA-ITA) hopes to win an injunction to prevent the Commerce Department and four other US agencies from considering nine petitions from domestic textile companies seeking limits on goods ranging from cotton pants to knit shirts and underwear from China.

The group, which filed the suit at the US Court of International Trade, believes the petitions fail to meet the government's own standards and that CITA operates without input from the companies whose business is affected by its decisions.

Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, one of a group of US trade associations that has been petitioning for the special textile China safeguards, says the USA-ITA's action "strongly signals that they believe the coalition's petitions will be approved if they are decided on merits.

"AMTAC notes that a simple reading of the Working Party Report that facilitated China's accession into the WTO allows countries to implement safeguards on the basis of threat. 

"USA-ITA is making a legal argument that the US textile industry should only be able to call the fire department after the house has burned down. 

"AMTAC believes that USA-ITA's suit will not succeed because if a safeguard cannot be used on the basis of threat, then no safeguard would exist at all."