of Clothing from China Worries U.S. Government and Workers||
As Chinese textile goods, including pants, underwear and shirts, hit stores
across the country at unprecedented rates, U.S. officials and the textile industry
worry about the effects on the American apparel market and industry workers.
of Chinese cotton knit shirts and blouses have grown approximately
1,250 percent, cotton pants 1,500 percent, and man-made fiber
underwear 300 percent over this time last year.
This surge of clothing imports from China is the result
of the December 2004 expiration of the Multi-Fiber Agreement (MFA), which gave
developing countries access to international markets and bolstered job creation.
The arrangement also protected industrialized countries such as the United
States from competing against China, where lower labor costs enable manufacturers
to offer fabric and clothing at rock bottom prices.
textile companies call for action|
Now that these quotas are no longer in effect, U.S. clothing manufacturers
According to a group
of American fabric manufacturers, the National Council of Textile Organizations,
the first three months of soaring import figures have resulted in the closing
of at least 17 textile mills and 17,000 lost jobs for American garment workers
since Jan. 1.
"This surge of imports from China is just the tip of
the iceberg. If history is any indication, Chinese imports will continue to soar
until they gain a virtual monopoly of the U.S. market," executive director
of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition Auggie Tantillo told the
Delta Farm Press.
in the United States are feeling pressure to act. When China joined
the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, it agreed to allow
member countries to impose quotas -- limits -- if its exports
In response to the flood
of Chinese apparel products, the U.S. government announced it would begin an investigation
to determine whether or not to impose quotas.
However, companies such as the Gap and J.C. Penney, which sell clothing, disagree
with textile industry officials.
They argue that reestablishing quotas will
raise prices for consumers without helping American workers.
of Chinese imports is taking away business from other low cost Asian and Latin
American countries and not causing U.S. job loss, they argue.
new quotas is just going to impose a hidden tax on consumers. This is all about
reshuffling deckchairs. This is not about saving jobs in the United States,"
Erik Autor of the National Retail Federation told The New York Times.
countries are also affected by the change. Southeast Asian and
Latin American countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Honduras
are now struggling to compete with China's manufacturing prowess.
As retailers and industry officials
in the United States contemplate moves to limit China's textile export growth,
debate over how to strike a balance between job protection and free, open markets
will continue with China opposing any limitations.
"Any attempt or moves to extend the quota system would go
against the principle of free and fair trade and shakes the foundations
of the multilateral trading system," spokesman Chong Wen
said on China's commerce ministry Web site.
Compiled by Monica Villavicencio for NewsHour Extra