I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Economics Report.
For the past ten years, a trade agreement permitted countries to limit imports of textiles and clothing. That agreement ended January first. Now the general rules of the World Trade Organization take its place.
The end of the quota system has meant a big increase in exports of clothing and textile products from China. Some countries say Chinese exports have grown too fast. The United States has acted to place new import limits.
Such actions are the job of a group of government agencies called the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements. On May thirteenth, the committee announced import limits on three products made of cotton and man-made fibers. Later, the group added four more to the list. Other cases remain.
The plan is to limit the growth of imports for the restricted products to seven and one-half percent through the end of this year. The limits take effect on the day that the committee officially asks for talks with the Chinese government. The first request came on Monday.
Terms for Chinese entry into the World Trade Organization permit any W.T.O member to take such action against China. This right to "safeguard" markets is to remain in effect through two thousand eight.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry expressed what it called "firm opposition and strong displeasure" with the American action. But last Friday the Xinhua news agency said China would move to restrict clothing exports. The report said the government would increase export taxes on more than seventy products, most by four hundred percent.
Last year, China had a trade surplus with the United States of one hundred sixty-two thousand million dollars.
The new import limits pleased American clothing makers. The National Council of Textile Organizations says the measures will save thousands of jobs. The group says almost seventeen thousand jobs have been lost already.
Clothing sellers, however, are not pleased. The National Retail Federation says the new limits will mean higher prices at stores. The trade group also says that suppliers will find other low-cost foreign makers. And it argues that the trade measures will do nothing to save American jobs.
This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are online at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Gwen Outen.