Roger W Chastain, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, has spoken out against the Senate's decision to grant China permanent normal trade relations (NTR) status, describing it as "a vote against the values of the United States, the US textile industry and its 550,000 employees."

"Granting China permanent NTR status clears the way for China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO)," he says. "As a WTO member, China will be treated more favorably on textile trade than all other WTO members were treated in 1995 because the United States will phase out its quotas against imported textiles and apparel from China by 2005, which amounts to a four-year phase-out. Every other WTO member was subjected to a 10-year quota phase-out beginning in 1995. This is unfair, unequitable, and very damaging to the jobs of US textile and apparel workers.

"According to a study by Nathan Associates Inc, an Arlington-based management consulting firm, the US government's granting China's request for an early textile and apparel quota phase-out in 2005 would cost the United States 150,000 textile and textile related jobs, $7.6bn in lost apparel sales, and $4bn in lost textile sales.

"This preferential treatment will do nothing to change China's outlaw behaviour, nor will its membership in the WTO. In fact, WTO membership will severely limit the United States' ability to unilaterally attack China's smuggling of more than $4bn of textiles and apparel into the United States each year.

"China has signed six bilateral textile trade agreements with the United States and has broken every single one of them. Is it likely that WTO membership will change that behavior?

"In addition, because the United States has agreed to consider China a non-market economy, China will be able to continue to exploit a loophole in the US trade regulations and escape the US countervailing duty law against export subsidies. Let me stress that all US manufacturers and their workers, not just those in textiles, will be sitting ducks for China's subsidised exports.

"The Senate vote today makes it imperative that the US textile industry takes advantage of trade opportunities under the North American Free Trade Agreement and with our Caribbean Basin Initiative trade enhancement legislation, especially prior to 2005 when all of the world's textile and apparel quotas will be removed."

About the ATMI
The American Textile Manufacturers Institute is the national trade association for the US textile industry. Member companies operate in more than 30 states and process nearly 75 per cent of all textile fibers consumed by plants in the United States. For more information visit ATMI's website at: www.atmi.org