Vietnamese apparel and textile firms are to pay a surcharge on garments exported to the US to cover the cost of international consultants who have been hired to help them navigate trade barriers in 2008.

The fee will be applicable on all US garment shipments made by members of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) from 1 January, according local media reports.
A notice issued by Vitas says the levy of 0.01% of each firm's export turnover will cover the costs of US law firm Sidley Austin LLP, which is helping Vitas members self-monitor exports to the US and lobby US officials to stop monitoring imports from Vietnam.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has been monitoring garment imports from Vietnam since January of 2007 to decide whether dumping has taken place.

The biannual review, which covers five groups of products made in Vietnam - shirts, trousers, sweaters, underwear and swimwear - will take place every six months until 19 January 2009 (when President Bush leaves office).

The first review, which took place in July 2007, found "insufficient evidence" for an anti-dumping probe based on import data for the first six months of the year. The next review is due in the spring of 2008, followed by the third and final review next autumn.

"The fees collected early next year will cover consultancy costs paid this year and will continue to be earmarked for additional costs incurred in 2008, particularly in March and August, when the DOC is expected to announce the results of its monitoring results," said Vitas chairman Le Quoc An.

Vitas says that expenses for necessary lobby activities in a legal battle against anti-dumping charges brought by the US will reach $300,000 to $400,000.