An agreement to further open world trade markets could flood the United States with foreign sheets, shirts and other textiles and apparel products, causing the domestic industry to lay off at least 1 million workers, industry officials said.
The Uruguay Round agreement reached in December phases out global textile quotas over 10 years. But officials from the American Textile Manufacturing Institute and other textile and apparel groups said the pact does little to make countries lower tariffs on textile imports.As a result, nations such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Egypt, and Turkey will get greater access to the U.S. market but keep high tariffs on imports of some products, ATMI President Carlos Moore said.
The Uruguay Round was sponsored by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which sets rules for most of the world's merchandise trade.
Jack Sheinkman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, said a phaseout of U.S. textile quotas under GATT will cost the domestic industry at least 1 million jobs. "Our members in the textile and apparel industry feel particularly betrayed by this agreement," he said in prepared remarks to the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee.
But although textile industry officials are balking at the Uruguay Round pact, which will go into effect in 1995 if approved by the U.S. Congress and other GATT nations, importers and retail groups are pleased.
Robert Hall, vice president of the National Retail Federation, said phasing out U.S. trade barriers will increase imports and lower prices for consumers. The federation represents U.S. department, chain, discount and specialty stores.
U.S. quotas and high tariffs on textile and apparel imports cost U.S. consumers $46 billion annually, he said.