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Justice to appeal China injunctions

Textile industry concerns over the status of a dozen China safeguard petitions appear to have been eased somewhat with an announcement that the U.S. Justice Department will appeal a preliminary injunction barring consideration of the appeals by the government.

Textile manufacturer organizations filed the safeguard petitions with the U.S. Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements in November to try to slow the rate of increase of Chinese textile imports into the United States.

But the U.S. Court of International Trade issued a preliminary injunction barring the interdepartmental committee from considering the so-called “threat-based petitions.” U.S. importer groups claimed such petitions could not be reviewed until evidence of actual damage to the textile industry could be collected.

“We are trying to figure out what the deadline is once you file a notice of appeal with the CIT,” said a U.S. Justice Department spokesman. “We think it may be 30 days, but I have a feeling it will be far sooner than that.”

The worldwide system of quotas on textile and apparel imports ended on Jan. 1, the deadline for the completion of a 10-year phase-out of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement. U.S. textile manufacturers have predicted the end of quotas would allow China to make even further inroads into the U.S. apparel market than it had in the last two years.

The safeguard petitions, which are permitted under the U.S.-China agreement allowing the latter to enter the World Trade Organization, only limit China's imports to a 7.5 increase in their annual rate of growth for the year in which the petition is granted.

Alternatives access

“Clearly, the industry deserves the right…to have access to all of the alternatives available under the accession terms of the agreement,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, one of the associations filing the China safeguard petitions. “It's ridiculous for those viable options to be denied us or even held up on a temporary basis.”

U.S. textile association executives participating in a two-day international summit in the nation's capital said they would move quickly to file new petitions if the appeals process dragged on.

They also called on the Commerce Department, which oversees the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, to provide “real-time” import data. Trade data from Commerce is now usually a month and a half old.

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