US retailers have added their dissent to criticisms of the Department of Commerce's (DOC) monitoring mechanism against apparel imports from Vietnam, saying it will hit retailers and consumers in the US as well as the Vietnam industry.

Speaking at Tuesday's hearing on the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Import Monitoring Program, retail leaders said the mechanism is causing "serious and unnecessary uncertainty and disruption" in the retail sector.

Stephanie Lester, vice president of international trade at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), pointed out that most of the products the RILA members purchased from Vietnam could not be supplied by domestic production.

She urged the Department "to limit monitoring to imports of products actually produced in the US for the commercial market.

"Monitoring imports in product categories in which there is no domestic production is harmful to trade and the US bilateral relationship with Vietnam, and is a misuse of government resources."

RILA wants the Department to give clear signals that it will not self-initiate antidumping cases unless prices drop significantly and the US industry supplies data indicating material injury caused by Vietnamese imports.

The Department of Commerce launched its textile and apparel import monitoring scheme on 11 January when Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Monitoring US imports from Vietnam in five broad groups of products - shirts, trousers, sweaters, underwear and swimwear - is seen as a prelude to self-initiating anti-dumping cases against these products.