Apparel trade law expert Thomas Travis gave more than 100 apparel executives gathered for the seminar "Trade Politics on the Eve of 2005" a thorough update on the status of pending and proposed U.S. free trade agreements and what he has dubbed the "sourcing matrix" of global apparel trade laws.
But even as he weighed in on proposed pacts and rules that could affect sourcing strategy, he concluded his presentation by noting that all of these variables are "nothing to the quota situation."
Dumping charges, or official petitions by U.S. companies that their viability is seriously threatened by a surge in imports, could "plant uncertainty" in the minds of apparel buyers and importers, Travis said at the Aug. 4 seminar, produced by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). And as quotas phase out, more petitions are likely.
If the U.S. government determines that an anti-dumping petition deserves to be explored and talks are needed to resolve it, it will reinstate quotas for the import category in question. Thus, apparel importers potentially may find themselves dealing in a quota-imposed environment mid-stream in their importing seasons when they thought they would be bringing in goods quota free.
The U.S. government organization calling the shots when it comes to determining the validity of safeguard petitions is the Committee for the Implementation of Textile and Apparel Agreements (CITA). Petitions were filed in August related to bras, and Travis said knit categories are likely future targets.
KATHLEEN DESMARTEAU is editor in chief of Apparel and may be reached at 203-312-0600; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg P.A.
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