updated 4/6/2005 3:17:50 PM ET 2005-04-06T19:17:50

The U.S. textile and clothing industry asked the government Wednesday to reimpose quotas on 14 categories of clothing to protect American manufacturers from a flood of Chinese imports.

The cases covered such products as knit shirts, sweaters, brassieres, dressing gowns and trousers made with man-made fibers and came two days after the Bush administration brought its own cases on different clothing products.

Industry officials said they approved of the administration’s effort but that it did not go far enough to protect the U.S. textile and apparel industry, which they contended was in danger of being decimated by the heavy flow of products from China since the first of the year when quotas were lifted.

On Monday, the administration announced that it was bringing its own cases covering cotton knit shirts and blouses, cotton trousers and underwear made of cotton and manmade fabrics. By taking action on its own, the government cut the time for making a decision from perhaps as long as four months to as little as six weeks.

The industry said this move was helpful but did not cover enough clothing categories. They conceded that their own cases could take until October to be decided if the government takes the maximum amount of time available. They urged the government to shorten the decision-making process to help an industry they said was losing 200 jobs per day because of the onslaught of Chinese imports.

They also pledged to file more petitions covering more products in coming weeks.

“The U.S. industry will lose tens of thousands of jobs if the U.S. government waits the full four months to act. We need the U.S. government not only to approve these cases, but to approve them as quickly as possible, which they could do by mid-May,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition.

No American jobs saved
However, retailers argue that the drive by the U.S. industry will not save American jobs. It instead will simply shift production to other countries, they maintain.

Under the terms by which China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001, the United States and other wealthy countries can limit textile imports from China through 2008 using a provision known as a “safeguard.” That language was developed to protect the U.S. market from disruptions once global quotas ended on Jan. 1 of this year.

However, this safeguard provision applies only to China and would not limit shipments from other nations.

The U.S. textile industry argues that China is using unfair tactics, such as manipulating its currency, to keep it undervalued against the U.S. dollar in an effort to gain trade advantages over other nations.

“China’s export surge in these categories released from quota on Jan. 1 is directly attributable to the illegal and unfair subsidies given to their producers in an effort to drive all other competitors out of the market,” said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.

The administration is hoping to pick up votes for a new free trade agreement with six Latin American countries — the Central American Free Trade Agreement — by showing its support for the U.S. textile and apparel industry. But the pact is facing stiff opposition in Congress.

Several industry officials told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that the administration had not done enough yet to protect domestic manufacturers to warrant their backing of CAFTA.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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