Iowa Public Television


U.S.-China Battle Over Cotton Imports

posted on April 8, 2005

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

The impact of exports on American agriculture was in full evidence this week. From Asia to Europe and from South America to its own backyard, U.S. farm interests were buffeted by export news.

For starters, the European Union has proposed sanctions against American farm goods in retaliation for the Byrd Amendment ... a U.S. law that gives the proceeds from anti-dumping tariffs back to the U.S. companies that lodged complaints against foreign competitors.

Then there's Canada. Already frustrated over the delayed re-opening of the U.S. border to its beef exports, the Canadians scored a victory of sorts this week when the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled live hog exports from Canada have NOT damaged the U.S. hog industry. The National Pork Producers Council expressed dismay in the decision.

And from Asia there was a mixed bag of news. The Japanese market remains stubbornly closed to U.S. beef, but Taiwan this week lifted its sanctions.

U.S. cotton producers also claimed a victory in Asia this week. But this one was launched from the White House, where the Bush administration decided it was time to get tough with China on textiles.

U.S.-China Battle Over Cotton Imports For more than three years, the U.S. cotton industry has been concerned that eliminating textile quotas would open the floodgates to Chinese clothing. According to a recently released U.S. government report, those fears were not unfounded. During the first quarter of 2005, Chinese imports surged across U.S. borders. The import of knit shirts went up 1,258 percent, trousers 1,521 percent, and underwear 308 percent.

Even though quotas have been eliminated, the U.S. Commerce Department still can provide some relief to the beleaguered U.S. cotton industry. According to a previously negotiated World Trade Organization agreement, if Chinese imports reach levels 7.5 percent over one year ago a quota can be instated.

The work begins with a 30-day comment period. Once all the remarks have been made, there is a 60-day waiting period before a decision is rendered. Negotiations are expected to take place with the Chinese in an effort to reach some kind of agreement before all 90 days have elapsed.

U.S. manufacturers have been pressuring the federal government to keep an eye on China. In late 2003, they claimed the incoming Chinese goods caused the loss of more than 200 thousand US textile jobs while textile imports increased by 2000 percent.

Tags: agriculture China cotton economy industry markets news trade