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US says could seek China textile deal
Updated: 2005-08-02 07:26

The Bush administration said on Monday it was delaying a decision on whether to restrict additional imports of clothing from China so it could consult with industry and lawmakers about whether to seek a comprehensive textile trade pact with Beijing, the Reuters reported.

"Today's decision will allow us time to engage in substantive discussions with our domestic textile and apparel industries and members of Congress on whether there is interest in a broader textile agreement with China," U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said in a statement.

The United States has restricted imports of billions of dollars worth of clothing from China this year using an anti-surge "safeguard" mechanism Beijing accepted when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The U.S. textile industry has repeatedly called on the Bush administration to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with China governing textile trade through the end of 2008. The United States has raised that idea with China, but never formally proposed it, administration officials said.

The decision to consult with U.S. stakeholders on whether to formally seek a deal with China follows a vote last week in the U.S. House of Representatives on the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), where some textile state lawmakers helped provide the margin of victory.

The Bush administration said it was delaying until Aug. 31 a decision on safeguard requests in six categories: men's and boys' wool trousers, cotton and synthetic dressing gowns and robes, cotton and synthetic bras, cotton and synthetic sweaters, knit fabric and certain synthetic filament fabric.

It also announced it had agreed to consider industry petitions asking for safeguard curbs in five other areas: cotton, wool and synthetic socks, women's and girls' cotton and synthetic woven shirts, cotton and synthetic skirts, cotton and synthetic nightwear and cotton and synthetic swimwear.

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