China's textile tsunami & the WTO.
Our trade deficit for 2004 hit an astounding $665.9 billion, up a blistering 25.5 percent from 2003. From all indicators, 2005 will be even worse. The Commerce Department announced on March 11 that the U.S. trade deficit hit $58.3 billion in January, the second-highest in history, topped only by the $59.4 billion deficit set in November. By far, the largest chunk of our January trade deficit was with Communist China--$15.3 billion.
Of particular note are the new figures showing China's stepped-up attack on America's textile and apparel industry. What for years was already a devastating flood is now building into a catastrophic tsunami. Thanks to U.S. adoption of the WTO's Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, quotas and tariffs on imported textiles were lifted in January. Surprise! China had an armada of container ships queued tip ready to unload a tidal wave of textiles and clothing. Its export of cotton trousers to the U.S. in January soared 1,000 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Overall, China's share of the U.S. textile and apparel market surged 75 percent from December, hitting $1.8 billion in January.
"This surge of imports from China is just the tip of the iceberg. If history is any indication, Chinese imports will continue to soar until they gain a virtual monopoly of the US market," says Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. If Mr. Tantillo is right, hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers in the textile and clothing industries will soon be out of jobs, and America's trade deficits will continue to soar.
American jobs and our overall economic picture are very important issues, of course. However, there is another side to our accelerating trade crisis that is rarely mentioned. Can we really allow ourselves to become dependent on foreign sources (even hostile sources) for items that are vital to our national security and defense?
Mr. Smyth McKissick addressed this crucial question in testimony he presented to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on January 30, 2004. Mr. McKissick is CEO of Alice Manufacturing Company, Inc., a privately held textile company with four plants in South Carolina. Founded in 1910, the company has been guided by four generations of McKissicks.
"The Defense Supply Center-Philadelphia estimates that over 8,000 different textile items are purchased annually for use by the Armed Forces," Mr. McKissick noted, "and this figure actually rises to over 30,000 line items when individual sizes are factored into the item mix." What kinds of things does the textile industry produce for our military? McKissick's testimony provides some idea:
We supply such combat essential items as combat and flight uniforms, helmets, flak jackets, gear for extreme weather operations, chemical defense suits, parachutes, aircraft fuel cells, sandbags, tents and shelters, sheets, blankets and hospital supplies, as well as airplane panels (made of Nomex & Kevlar), ammunition, bags/pouches, fabric for bullet-proof vests and helmets, chemical protective suits, communication lines (optical fiberglass), extreme weather protective fabrics, interfacing and lining in apparel and shoes, parachutes and parachute harnesses, personal flotation devices, pontoon bridges, rafts, ropes and cables, ship composites, stealth fighter plane graphite fibers and wet suits, to name just a few of the thousands of items.
"But if this industry, this key supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense, is allowed to wither away because of unfairly traded imports from China and other countries, where will our Armed Forces go for these 30,000 line items?" he asked. "Will our soldiers have to wait on China to agree to meet our military's specifications not just for quantity but for quality? ... Will they then have to wait for them to be shipped on the proverbial slow boat from China?" If we allow that to happen, McKissick asked, "what do we do when China does not agree with a particular U.S. foreign policy or defense policy, and decides to cut off the pipeline?"
What is the administration's response? The Commerce Department announced that the administration is "concerned" about China's textile invasion and will "raise this issue as part of our ongoing dialog with the Chinese" in the WTO. That's not a response; it's a prescription for national suicide. Tell your congressman to support House Joint Resolution 27, a bill that calls for withdrawing the U.S. from the WTO, and put an end to these destructive trade policies.
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|Title Annotation:||The Last Word; World Trade Organization|
|Author:||Jasper, William F.|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Apr 4, 2005|
|Previous Article:||Obstructionists at work.|