The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) yesterday (24 April) urged the US Department of Commerce not to initiate anti-dumping actions against Vietnamese textile and apparel products unless the monitoring process is "fully transparent."

AAFA executive vice president Stephen Lamar, said the Department's special "monitoring" website generates confusion and uncertainty because "it is unclear exactly what is being monitored, what methodology is being used and how these trade statistics factor into that monitoring."

Furthermore, Lamar wants the Department to only monitor imports of articles where there is domestic production and US producers can demonstrate they have the ability to be injured by "dumped" imports from Vietnam.

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.

Speaking during a US Department of Commerce Import Administration hearing on Vietnam textile and apparel import monitoring, Lamar added: "We believe there is little support or interest in this monitoring programme among domestic apparel producers because much of what is produced domestically does not compete against Vietnamese imports.

"Moreover, discouraging apparel sourcing in Vietnam - through either the threat or initiation of an anti-dumping investigation - provides no guarantee (or even likelihood) that apparel production will migrate back to the United States."

He said the agency, led by assistant secretary of commerce for import administration David Spooner, should make it clear that self-initiation of an anti-dumping investigation would occur only if the Department determined that there is dumping of a particular product from Vietnam; that US domestic production of that same product is being harmed by that dumping; and that US domestic producers of that same product supported initiation of an investigation by the US government.
 
The timeline, "thresholds" that must be crossed before any investigations can begin, and specific benchmarks to help the industry understand how data must appear for an anti-dumping investigation to be imminent are all needed, Lamar urged.

And there should also be a mechanism for public comment before an anti-dumping case is initiated if those "thresholds" are met.