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IMPROVED BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN U.S. TEXTILE INDUSTRY TEMPERED BY TRADE DEVELOPMENTS

 IMPROVED BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN U.S. TEXTILE INDUSTRY
 TEMPERED BY TRADE DEVELOPMENTS
 /ADVANCE/BOCA RATON, Fla., March 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The president of the U.S. textile industry's trade association today cited generally improved industry conditions that will be influenced by "great dangers," as well as potential benefits posed by current international trade developments.
 Neil H. Hightower, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), said two trade agreements currently being negotiated -- the Uruguay Round of international trade talks and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- could provide opportunities or pitfalls for U.S. textile mills and their workers.
 "I feel upbeat about our industry today," Hightower told those attending ATMI's 43rd annual meeting at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. He cited growth in the U.S. retail market, housing starts and automobile sales, all of which depend on textile products.
 "The problem is that poised to reap the rewards of better times is not the United States but China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia," he added. "Unless our government is prepared to stand tough at the negotiating table. Today we are at the threshold of a breakthrough or a breakdown."
 Hightower said the proposed textile draft in the Uruguay Round of talks under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) "calls for the U.S. market to be systematically eaten alive by the Far East over 10 years." Three separate reports forecast employment losses of up to 1 million jobs in the industry if the textile draft is ratified.
 To minimize damage to the U.S. textile industry, he said, the Uruguay Round agreement should:
 (a) provide for equal access to foreign markets;
 (b) include a 15-year, rather than 10-year, phaseout of the Multifiber Arrangement; and
 (c) guarantee that China, which is not a GATT member, not be allowed to "walk away with all the fruits of the worldwide market liberalization."
 On a brighter note, Hightower said the NAFTA could provide opportunities for U.S. industry, if properly structured.
 "This trading block could counterbalance the emerging blocs in Europe and the Far East," he said. "Properly constructed, it would provide opportunities for our exports and could create a North American trading block which could displace Far East goods from our market."
 Hightower spelled out other industry challenges, including:
 (a) Protecting and preserving the environment through expenditures of millions of dollars and extensive industry commitment. ATMI recently launched an "Environmental Excellence" program for textile companies;
 (b) Expanding use of the "Quick Response" strategy, which enables domestic fiber, textile, apparel and retail companies to work closely together to meet consumer demand quickly and cut costs. Hightower said the strategy is a "clearcut competitive advantage" and "path to stronger performance";
 (c) Encouraging farmers to grow cotton of higher quality and more predictable characteristics;
 (d) Continuing effective communications strategies to improve the industry's image; and
 (e) Maintaining close contact with Washington policymakers to ensure industry input on tax, trade and regulatory issues.
 ATMI provides international trade, economic information, communications, government relations and product services in support of the U.S. textile industry.
 -0- 3/28/92/1200
 /CONTACT: Deborah E. Anderson, James A. Morrissey or Christopher Bonner, ATMI Media Center (Granada A Room), Boca Raton Resort & Club, 407-395-3000, all of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute/ CO: American Textile Manufacturers Institute ST: Florida IN: TEX SU:


BR-BN -- AT008 -- 2568 03/27/92 18:00 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 27, 1992
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