US textile groups say they intend to file dozens of threat-based safeguard petitions in mid-to-late September in an attempt to halt Chinese textile and apparel imports when quotas are taken away at the start of 2005.

Categories targeted for safeguard filings include men's and boys' cotton trousers and women's and girls' cotton trousers.

Safeguard petitions will be filed with the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), an interagency group comprised of representatives from the Departments of Commerce, State, Treasury and Labor, as well as the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Earlier this year the White House rejected an appeal by lawmakers to postpone the lifting of the quotas.

Now the industry is asking for restrictions on how much China can increase its exports. The request is unusual because petitions to limit imports normally come after they have damaged a domestic industry

"Threat-based China safeguard petitions are vital to the survival of the U.S. textile industry," said Karl Spilhaus, President of the National Textile Association (NTA).

Once the industry files the complaints, the US Commerce Department will have 60 days to decide whether it will accept petitions based on the threat of injury to the US industry by Chinese imports.

"We can't wait for market disruption to occur because it's tantamount to calling the fire department after the house has burned down," Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition.