Representatives from the six largest textile industry organizations met in Washington, D.C., and unanimously approved a coordinated lobbying campaign designed to ensure the industry's survival.

“The U.S. government's lack of follow-through on its commitments concerning textile trade policy has thrown the U.S. textile, fiber and apparel industry and its nearly 1 million workers into a life or death struggle,” says American Textile Manufacturers (ATMI) Chairman Billy Moore. “The industry has made an unwavering commitment to take any and all political steps to ensure its survival.”

The initial goal of the campaign is to persuade the government to implement the special textile China safeguard to moderate the massive surge of Chinese exports. The effort will also concentrate on preventing China from unfairly taking advantage of regional free-trade agreements now being negotiated, particularly the proposed Central American agreement.

The associations agreed to work against the inclusions of exceptions, called Tariff Preference Levels (TPLs), which allow Chinese and other Asian textile exports to enter the region duty-free.

The inclusion of TPLs, the group says, would undercut more than $5 billion in U.S. textile export trade with Central America and threaten thousands of U.S. jobs. A report by ATMI noted that during the 12-month period ending in March '03, China's textile and apparel exports to the U.S. increased 140%, the biggest in history. During the same period, the U.S. textile industry closed more than 50 plants and 40,000 workers lost their jobs.

New FiberMax Certification Program

Bayer CropScience, the maker of FiberMax cottonseed, is introducing a value-assurance initiative called the FiberMax Certification Program.

“This certification gives growers the opportunity to identify their cotton as Certified FiberMax Cotton, which often commands premiums,” says Brent Crossland, FiberMax marketing manager, Bayer CropScience.

“Mills with advanced spinning technologies require the HVI-measured quality characteristics typically met by FiberMax cotton,” says Ed Jernigan, CEO and president of Globecot (a global fiber, textile research and communications group).

U.S./China Trade Talks Progress

Ambassador Allen Johnson says he is “encouraged” by progress made in talks with China regarding ag trade disputes. Johnson, the U.S. Trade Representative's chief agricultural trade negotiator, expects U.S. exports to China to increase after his meetings there.

A top priority of his visit was to get China to provide access to U.S. cotton exports in accordance with the World Trade Organization accession agreement.

Johnson focused on four concerns the U.S. has with China's administration of its market access commitments: 1) reservation of a portion of imported products for companies that process and export the resultant product; 2) burdensome licensing requirements; 3) allocation of import rights in quantities that are not commercially viable; and 4) lack of transparency that makes it difficult for U.S. exporters to know which leaders have the right to import.

Africa Wants Subsidies Cut

A group of African countries submitted a joint proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) calling for establishment of a mechanism to phase out and eliminate support for cotton production.

President Blaise Compaore, speaking on behalf of Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad and Mali, says subsidies by rich countries to cotton producers “have caused economic and social crisis in African cotton-producing countries” by depressing export prices. The proposal also called for financial compensation for producers in less-developed countries during the phase-out period to offset lost income due to subsidized competition.