Textile and Apparel Trade Issues
Textile and Apparel Trade Issues
Updated January 5, 2007
Bernard A. Gelb
Specialist in Industry Economics
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Textile and Apparel Trade Issues
Textile and apparel production and international trade have been important
elements of economic activity and growth since the Industrial Revolution. Major
reasons are (1) textiles and apparel are basic items of consumption in all countries,
and (2) textile and apparel manufacture — particularly apparel — is labor-intensive,
requiring relatively little fixed capital for entrepreneurs to establish production
facilities. Thus, these industries are major generators of jobs in many countries.
Because of its importance to the U.S. economy and to many U.S. trade partners,
textile and apparel trade has been a major issue in trade relations with a number of
countries and regions. Other industrialized countries have faced similar issues, and
in attempts to resolve conflicts between the interests of exporters and importers, a
number of agreements (multilateral and bilateral) were signed over the years
generally restricting the quantities of textiles and apparel traded. A major recent
event was the completion on January 1, 2005, of the phaseout of such quotas, as
mandated by the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations in the 1990s.
In the last several decades, textile and apparel manufacture has been shifting to
developing countries as a whole, with textiles and apparel accounting for large
portions of their exports to industrially developed countries. Lower wages in
developing countries together with the labor-intensiveness of apparel production tend
to give those countries a cost advantage in apparel manufacture and a locational
advantage for their textile production. Also, there have been large shifts in many
individual countries’ shares of world textile and apparel trade since the mid-1990s.
The basic worldwide shifts have affected and continue to negatively affect the U.S.
textile and apparel industries. While there have been a few intermittent increases,
overall U.S. output of textiles and apparel, and associated employment, in the mid
2000s are below peaks set in the last three or four decades, and are projected to
Most trade participants, analysts, and observers expected that the quota phaseout
would result in increased exports of textiles and apparel by developing countries as
a whole. However, it became widely believed and feared — now seemingly justified
— that China will be a major beneficiary at the expense of most other developing
countries, although India and Pakistan are expected to benefit appreciably as well.
The United States and the European Union have imposed limitations on the initial
surge in imports from China, as permitted by the rules governing China’s accession
to the World Trade Organization.
Notwithstanding the potential difficulty for some U.S. textile and apparel
industry segments, Congress has eased trade terms on apparel from Andean,
Caribbean, and sub-Saharan nations — in moves to boost economic growth in poorer
regions. However, the preferences are contingent in many cases on requirements that
beneficiary country industries use U.S.-made materials in producing apparel. In
addition, the United States has concluded free trade agreements with a number of
countries, mainly in this hemisphere, that probably will have negative consequences
for U.S. textile and apparel producers. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Economics of Textile and Apparel
Production and Trade...........................................1
U.S. Textile and Apparel Production and Trade..........................2
Agreement on Textiles and Clothing...............................6
Trade Preference Programs.........................................12
The Caribbean Basin and Central America.........................13
U.S. Fiber and Fabric Exports to Trade Preference Regions............14
Shifts in Shares of World Textile and Apparel Trade.....................15
Implementation and Effects of the Quota Phaseout.......................18
Pre- and Post-Phaseout Procedural Developments...................19
Effect on U.S. Producers and the U.S. Economy.....................22
Effects on Developing Countries.................................24
Other Asian Countries.....................................25
Countries With U.S. Trade Preferences........................26
Regional Trade Agreements.....................................26
Appendix: Estimating Imports’ Share
of the U.S. Textile and Apparel Markets..........................27
List of Tables
Table 1. U.S. Trade in Textiles and Apparel.............................4
Table 2. U.S. Exports of Yarn, Thread, and Fabricto Trade Preference
Table 3. Selected Countries With Large Changes in Exports of Textiles and
Clothing, 1993 to 2004........................................16
2000, and 2004...............................................17
Table 5. Imports’ Approximate Shares
of the U.S. Textile and Apparel Markets...........................21
Table 6. Production and Employment, 2004 and 2014,
of Selected U.S. Textile and Apparel Manufacturing Industries.........23
Textile and Apparel Trade Issues
Because of their importance to the U.S. economy and to many U.S. trade
partners, textile and apparel trade has been a major issue in trade relations with a
number of countries and regions. Other industrialized countries have faced similar
issues, and international and domestic measures were undertaken to try to resolve
conflicts between the interests of exporters and importers. A major recent event was
the completion on January 1, 2005, of the phaseout of quotas on imports of textiles
and apparel that were established decades ago as compromises between exporting
developing countries and importing developed countries.
Economics of Textile and Apparel
Production and Trade
Textile and apparel manufacture, and international trade in those products, have
been important elements of economic activity and growth since the Industrial
Revolution. Major reasons for this are (1) textiles and apparel are basic items of
consumption in all countries, and (2) apparel manufacture is labor-intensive,
requiring relatively little fixed capital. Thus, these industries are major generators
of employment. Modest capital requirements contributed to textiles and apparel
being among the major industries at the start of the Industrial Revolution and
contribute to these industries being important to developing countries now. The
percentage of total manufacturing value added accounted for by textile production
among developing countries in 2004 was three and a half times the percentage among
industrialized countries; and the corresponding percentage for apparel production was
two and a half times that for industrialized countries.1
Lower wage rates in developing countries together with the labor-intensiveness
of apparel manufacture tend to give developing countries a comparative advantage
in apparel manufacture and a locational advantage for textile manufacture. Thus,
textile and apparel manufacture is tending to shift to developing countries, with
textiles and apparel constituting large portions of their exports. Industrialized
countries’ textile and apparel manufacture (measured by constant-dollar value added)
increased between 1980 and 2004, whereas textile and apparel manufacture in
developing countries decreased.2 Developing countries’ textile and apparel exports
(in nominal dollars) in 2001 were nearly seven times their 1980 level, whereas
developed economies’ textile and apparel exports somewhat more than doubled
1 United Nations Industrial Development Organization. International Yearbook of Industrial
Statistics 2006. Vienna: 2006. p. 65.
2 International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics 2002, p. 58-59; International Yearbook of
Industrial Statistics 2006, p. 68-69.
during the period. Textiles and apparel comprised 12% of developing economies’
exports in 2001, versus 3% for developed economies.3
U.S. Textile and Apparel Production and Trade
The basic worldwide shifts in textile and apparel production and trade described
above have affected and continue to affect the U.S. highly developed and
industrialized economy. Although there have been a few intermittent increases,
overall U.S. production of textiles and apparel in the mid 2000s is below peaks set
in the last three or four decades. The decline has been especially notable over the last4
several years. For example, U.S. output of textile product materials, non-apparel
textile end-products, and apparel in August 2006 was 33%, 11%, and 37%,
respectively, below the 1999 levels. In contrast, output by U.S. manufacturing as a
whole nearly doubled between 1980 and 1999, and increased 16% between 1999 and5
August 2006. More significant to many in the U.S. textile and apparel industries,
employment in those industries combined fell by more than 60% between 1980 and
August 2006. The industries together employed about 610,000 people that month,
compared with 2.1 million in 1980.6
Some of the decline in U.S. textile and apparel employment is linked to gains
in productivity, and some to increases in importation of textiles and apparel. Output
per hour in U.S. textile manufacturing more than tripled between 1960 and 1987,
then rose more than 50% between 1987 and 2000. Apparel manufacturing output per
hour doubled in the earlier period, and nearly doubled again in the shorter later
period. Thus, increases in textile manufacturing productivity were faster between
U.S. manufacturers of textiles and apparel have been facing intensifying foreign
competition for much of the post-World War II period. By 1973, the United States
had a trade deficit of nearly $2½ billion in textiles and apparel (combined); and it has7
continued to rise steeply. Both textiles and apparel experienced increasing trade
deficits into the mid-1990s, and it has continued for apparel and other textile end-
3 United Nations. 1994 International Trade Statistics Yearbook, Vol. II., 1995. p. S-20, S-
4 Yarn, thread, and fabrics.
5 Federal Reserve System, Board of Governors, “Industrial Production and Capacity
utilization, Historical Data” [http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/G17/download.htm]
viewed September 22, 2006. These output changes, based upon the Federal Reserve’s
industrial production indexes, reflect changes in production volumes rather than in value
added (used by the United Nations).
6 Bureau of Labor Statistics, [http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/outside.jsp?survey=ce] viewed
September 22, 2006].
7 The U.S.-focused trade data used in this section are from the Dataweb database compiled
by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) from Department of Commerce and ITC
data, obtained in a sequence of steps from [http://dataweb.usitc.gov/scripts/user_set.asp]
on September 15, 2006
products (Table 1). The annual rate of U.S. imports of apparel and other textile end-
products in the first ten months of 2006 was 14 times the 1980 level. At this rate,
U.S. imports of apparel and other textile end-products will exceed exports by an
estimated $86 billion in the full year 2006.8 To a great extent, the increase in imports
of apparel over the years reflects a number of sharp increases in imports. For
example, there were two such increases in the 1960s, one in the 1970s, one in the
However, imports of yarn, thread, and fabrics essentially have leveled off since
the mid-1990s, and exports of those materials have increased. If the rates of yarn,
thread, and fabric imports and exports in the ten months of 2006 continued to the end
of the year, US. yarn, thread, and fabric producers will have experienced a modest
trade surplus of $1.3 billion.
Especially recently, U.S.-made yarn and fabrics have fared better with respect
to trade than U.S.-made apparel and other textile end-products. Yarn and fabric
production is less labor-intensive, more easily automated, and, as a major input to
apparel, can be exported to serve as inputs to foreign-made apparel that then is
exported back into the United States. Also, U.S. yarn and fabric manufacturers have
been helped by requirements in trade agreements and trade preference programs that
broadly require U.S.-made yarn and fabrics be used to produce the apparel made
abroad. (U.S. trade preference programs are described later in this report.) Growth
in U.S. fiber and fabric imports has leveled off; fiber and fabric exports have
increased faster than imports; and exports of have exceeded imports since 2001.
U.S. textile and apparel trade with developing countries is considerable. In
apparel textile product sources, and nine of the top ten apparel sources were
developing countries. For U.S. exports, six of the top ten fiber and fabric
destinations, two of the top ten non-apparel textile product destinations, and six of
the top ten apparel destinations were developing countries. Mexico was one of the
top-five in all the above import and export product groups; and China was first as a
non-apparel textile end-product exporter and first as an apparel exporter to the United
S t at es. 9
A key aspect of trends in U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing and in U.S.
textile and apparel trade policy is the opposing interests of U.S. importers and
retailers and U.S. manufacturers. The former groups seek to obtain goods at the
lowest cost (which are imports in many cases) to maximize their sales, which, of
course, tends to lower demand for the products of U.S. textile and apparel
8 U.S. International Trade Commission Dataweb.
9 U.S. International Trade Commission Dataweb.
Table 1. U.S. Trade in Textiles and Apparel
(millions of current dollars)
Textile Mill ProductsApparel & Other Fabricated Textile Products
Exports Imports Balance Exports Imports Balance
19739261,423 - 4973812,261 -1,880
19802,4882,034 4541,6046,543 -4,939
1989 2,900 4,786 -1,886 2,451 25,509 -23,058
1994 5,151 6,534 -1,383 6,145 38,561 -32,506
Yarn, Thread, and FabricTextile Mill ProductsApparel and Accessories
Ye a r Exports Imports Balance Exports Imports Balance Exports Imports Balance
iki/CRS-RL317231997 5,487 6,343 -856 2,124 4,780 -2,656 8,274 47,084 -38,810
g/w1999 5,935 6,443 -508 2,118 6,350 -4,232 7,876 55,104 -47,228
leak2001 7,098 6,336 762 1,991 7,580 -5,589 6,469 62,429 -55,960
://wiki2002 7,397 6,778 619 1,875 8,643 -6,768 5,462 62,313 -56,851
http2003 7,557 6,791 779 1,881 9,857 -7,976 4,923 66,499 -61,576
2004 8,352 7,387 965 2,062 11,707 -9,645 4,346 70,553 -66,207
2005 8,471 7,453 1,018 2,343 13,508 -11,165 4,069 74,473 -70,404
2006 a 8,750 7,404 1,346 2,560 14,801 -12,241 3,883 78,118 -74,235
Notes: Import data are imports for consumption; export data are domestic exports. U.S. trade and other data now are based upon the North
American Industrial Classification System; trade data based upon the previous classification system (Standard Industrial Classification System)
are available only through 2001. With respect to textiles and apparel, the main differences between the two systems are that apparel items
previously classified under “Textile Mill Products” now are classified under “Apparel and Accessories;” non-apparel textile products (e.g., linens,
curtains, tents) previously classified under “Apparel and Fabricated Textile Products” now are classified under “Textile Mill Products;” and
essentially all fiber and fabric products sold or otherwise transferred for further manufacture now are classified under “Fibers and Fabrics.” Data
for “Textile Mill Products” in the upper part of the table are mainly for fibers and fabrics, but include some finished fabricated textile products.
a. First ten months at an annual rate.
Sources: U.S. International Trade Administration (ITC). U.S. Industrial Outlook, various editions; U.S. International Trade Commission Dataweb
(compiled from Department of Commerce and ITC data) [http://dataweb.usitc.gov/scripts/user_set.asp].
The United States and other developed industrialized countries began to
experience steep increases in imports of textiles and apparel from developing
countries in the 1950s and 1960s that displaced domestic production in the former
countries. For example, imports of apparel and fabricated textile products (in current
dollar value) into the United States rose at an average annual rate of 18% between
1963 and 1968, and 20% between 1968 and 1973. Developing countries increased
their percentage of world exports of textiles from 18% to 22% between 1963 and
Attempts to ease the resulting conflicts between the interests of textile and
apparel exporters and importers resulted in a number of bilateral agreements, mainly
between developed and developing countries, bearing on and generally restricting
textile and apparel trade. Japan agreed to voluntarily control exports of cotton
textiles to the United States as early as 1957.11 Exporting and importing nations
agreed, under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to a Short
Term Arrangement in 1961 and to a Long Term Arrangement in 1962 that controlled
trade in cotton textiles. Among many subsequent agreements were those between the
United States and five countries (Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan)
in 1971 and between the U.S. and Macao and Singapore in 1973 to establish
maximum import levels of wool and man-made fiber textiles and apparel.
Other agreements, some multilateral such as the North American Free Trade
Agreement (discussed below), however, have sought to increase trade, with particular
attention to textiles and apparel in many cases.
In the early 1970s, the United States led in moves toward an international
agreement on textile and apparel trade. The Arrangement Regarding International
Trade in Textiles was reached in 1973. Known as the Multifibre Arrangement, or
MFA, it provided for a set of restrictions -- including a schedule of individual country
quotas -- on international textile and apparel trade.12 The United States negotiated
The MFA consolidated virtually all of previous bilateral agreements and applied
a common set of rules. The bilaterally negotiated agreements departed from the basic
rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, particularly with respect to the
principle of non-discrimination. These agreements applied quantitative restrictions
such as quotas when surges of imports of particular products caused, or threatened
to cause, damage to the industry of the importing country. The MFA, effective
January 1, 1974, was intended to last four years, with the aim of eventually phasing
10 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT Secretariat. Textiles and Clothing in
the World Economy. Geneva, July 1984. p. 40-41.
11 In the early Post World War II period, Japan could fairly be called a developing country.
12 The Multifiber Arrangement sometimes is called the Multifiber Agreement, incorrectly.
out the restrictions, but it was extended several times. It was replaced by the
Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which did phase out the quotas.
Agreement on Textiles and Clothing
Among the outcomes of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade, which include the creation of the World Trade Organization
(WTO), was the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC). The ATC, which
replaced the Multifibre Arrangement on January 1, 1995, was a transitional
instrument that, unlike the MFA, phased out existing quotas, improved access to the
textile markets of developing countries, and eventually placed trade in textiles and
apparel under the rules governing other products. As part of the process, the
agreement calls for cuts in tariffs to achieve improved access to markets for textile
and clothing products, but no systematic tariff reductions occurred under the ATC.13
The ATC provided for a 10-year transition period for producers in the developed
countries that had quotas to plan for and adjust to prospective intensified competition
from producers in developing countries. Quotas on textile and apparel imports were
eliminated in four stages (by set percentages of 1990 import volumes), limits on
remaining quotas rose at each stage, with the final stage occurring on January 1,
2005. A notable feature of the ATC was a provision allowing importing countries
to impose transitional safeguard mechanisms to protect against damaging surges of
imports of products not under quota and not yet integrated under WTO rules. Also,
while the ATC specified the percentages of goods subject to quotas that must be
phased out at each of four stages, importing countries could and did defer
liberalization of the most "sensitive" products until the last stage.
Many developing countries, whose exports of textiles and apparel had been
limited by past agreements, saw this strategy as unfairly deferring substantial
liberalization of imports and a constraint on their economic growth. They wanted a
faster phase-out of quotas and were eager for acceleration of the benefits of existing
agreements. Much of the negotiations related to textiles and apparel before, during,
and between the Seattle and Doha Ministerials pertained to this issue. Developing
countries received some support from the European Union and Japan for accelerated
implementation of agreements reached in Seattle, and they continued to press for
accelerated implementation of the ATC between those meetings. A Doha declaration
stated that the special needs and interests of developing and least developed countries
were to be taken into account.
Disputes arising under WTO rules may be addressed under the WTO Dispute
Settlement Understanding (DSU). Under the DSU, panels are established to
investigate complaints and make findings. The DSU strengthens earlier dispute
resolution procedures and practice (established under the General Agreement on
13 Article 7 of the ATC says “As part of the integration process and with reference to the
specific commitments undertaken by the Members as a result of the Uruguay Round, all
Members shall take such actions as may be necessary to abide by GATT 1994 rules and
disciplines so as to: (a) achieve improved access to markets for textile and clothing products
through such measures as tariff reductions and bindings, reduction or elimination of
non-tariff barriers, and facilitation of customs, administrative and licensing formalities....”
Tariffs and Trade). Nearly all complaints concerning textiles and/or apparel formally
brought against or brought by the United States cases have been resolved through
pre-adjudication agreement, compliance with the recommendation of the Dispute
Settlement Body, or settlement after the DSU recommendation. A number of other
disputes have been settled by bilateral negotiation.14
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada,
Mexico, and the United States has been in effect since January 1, 1994. Textiles and
apparel are among the major product groups affected by that agreement. The main
NAFTA provisions related to textiles and apparel are the elimination of tariffs and
quotas on goods coming from Mexico and the elimination of Mexican tariffs on U.S.
textile and apparel products. To benefit from such free trade, goods must meet the
rules of origin, which require in most cases that textile and apparel products trade
among the NAFTA partners are made of yarn and fabric manufactured in the free
trade area. The strict rules are meant to ensure that U.S. fiber and fabric producers
could continue to supply U.S. textile and apparel companies that move to Mexico.16
Under NAFTA, U.S. tariffs on textiles and apparel fell from an average of 9.1%
in 1992 to 1.3% in 1996, while Mexican tariffs on these goods decreased from an
average of 16.0% to 5.7%, according to a study by the U.S. International Trade
Commission (USITC). In comparison, U.S. tariffs on all Mexican products fell from
an average of 2.1% to 0.7%, while Mexican tariffs on all U.S. goods decreased from
import quotas on North American textiles and apparel previously in effect.
The effect of NAFTA on U.S. imports and exports of textiles is complicated.
Total U.S. textile and apparel trade with Mexico (imports plus exports) rose 218%
between 1993 and 2002, and the deficit in textile and apparel trade with Mexico more
than quintupled, due especially to apparel.18 However, U.S. fabric makers benefitted
14 For discussion of the DSU, see CRS Report RS20088, Dispute Settlement in the World
Trade Organization: An Overview, by Jeanne J. Grimmett.
15 This section on NAFTA is based largely upon CRS Report RL31386, Industry Trade
Effects Related to NAFTA, by M. Angeles Villarreal, CRS Report RS21737, NAFTA at Ten:
Lessons from Recent Studies, by J.F. Hornbeck, and upon two reports by the International
Trade Commission: Impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the U.S.
Economy and Industries: A Three Year Review, Publication 3045, July 1997; and The
Impact of Trade Agreements: Effect of the Tokyo Round, U.S.-Israel FTA, U.S.-Canada
FTA, NAFTA, and the Uruguay Round on the U.S. Economy, Publication 3621, Aug. 2003.
16 Without the rules of origin, apparel manufacturers located in Mexico would be able to
import low-cost fabrics from Asia and export the final product to the United States tariff-
free. For more details on, and discussion of, rules of origin, see CRS Report RL31934,
Textile and Apparel Rules of Origin in International Trade, by Bernard A. Gelb.
17 U.S. International Trade Commission, Impact of the North American Free Trade
Agreement on the U.S. Economy and Industries: A Three Year Review, Publication 3045,
July 1997, pp. ii and 32.
18 Industry Trade Effects Related to NAFTA, p. 10.
from increased use of U.S. fabric in apparel and other end-use textile goods
assembled in production-sharing operations in Mexico, although growth in U.S.
exports of yarn and fabric to Mexico has leveled off. And, given the low-cost lower-
quality of Mexican production, the agreement’s rules of origin generated high
demand for high quality U.S. (and Canadian) yarns and fabrics.19 In the meantime
(between 1993 and 2002), U.S. textile and apparel trade with all countries increased
79%, with the deficit doubling. Since 2002, U.S. textile and apparel trade with all
countries has risen 25%, and the deficit has risen by 35%.
While the big increase in U.S. imports from Mexico may have displaced, at least
temporarily, some U.S. textile and apparel workers, a 1997 USITC study suggested
that NAFTA may have shifted production from Asian countries to North America.
The study reported that U.S. textile and apparel imports from NAFTA countries
tended to have a higher U.S. content than imports from outside the region.20 Total
U.S. textile and apparel trade with Mexico increased considerably more than trade
with Asia or the world as a whole. However, this trend may have ended; after
increasing steadily through 2001, Mexico’s shares of U.S. textile and apparel trade
for the most part have decreased since then, while those of Asia have increased.
Overall, the effect of NAFTA on the U.S. and Mexican economies has been
modest according to a CRS analysis of the findings of a number of studies by non-
CRS academic and other non-partisan analysts, researchers, and organizations.21 And
growth in U.S. imports from and exports to Mexico of textiles and apparel has tended
to level off in the last several years.
In the last decade, the United States has entered into, with both large and small
countries, two regional trade agreements and several bilateral trade agreements that
have been reached since the expiration of textile and apparel quotas. Some of these
agreements have not yet been approved and implemented by Congress. The following
focuses mainly on matters pertaining to textiles and apparel.
China. A series of agreements between the United States and China and
related U.S. legislation have been very important. A February 1997 Memorandum
of Understanding regarding textiles and apparel, among other things, extended
through December 2000 existing U.S. quotas on Chinese textiles and apparel made
of most types of natural and manmade fibers, penalized China for evading quota
limits on certain products by transshipping through third countries, and strengthened
enforcement against such illegal transshipments.22 Major elements of a November
19 The Impact of Trade Agreements: Effect of the Tokyo Round, U.S.-Israel FTA, U.S.-
Canada FTA, NAFTA, and the Uruguay Round on the U.S. Economy, p. 298.
20 Impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement, p. 82.
21 NAFTA at Ten: Lessons from Recent Studies.
22 This was negotiated under the authority of Section 204 of the Agricultural Act of 1956
as amended, which authorizes the President to negotiate trade terms for agricultural products
(which are broadly defined) without subsequent Congressional approval.
15, 1999, agreement23 included (a) China, upon accession to the WTO, will "catch
up" to the ATC schedule of quota phaseouts by 2005 for other WTO members,24 (b)
the United States retains the right to impose safeguard measures on textiles and
apparel through the end of 2008, allowing continuation of some quotas under some
conditions, and (c) China will significantly lower its tariffs on a wide range of textile
and apparel products, and not impose new nontariff barriers. The terms of this
agreement were incorporated into China’s final overall WTO accession agreement.
The U.S.-China Relations Act (P.L. 106-286, October 10, 2000) was enacted,
partly to ensure that the WTO agreements would fully apply once China joined the
WTO. Among other things, this act (a) authorized the President to grant China
permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status after it joined the WTO, provided
the President certified that the terms and conditions for China's accession to the WTO
were at least equivalent to those of November 1999, (b) established a Congressional-
Executive commission to monitor and report on aspects of China’s human rights
policies, (c) directed the President to increase duties and impose other restrictions on
products of China being imported into the United States in such increased quantities
or under such conditions as to cause or threaten to cause market disruption to U.S.
producers of like or directly competitive products, and (d) required the U.S. Trade
Representative (USTR) to annually assess China's WTO compliance.
On November 10, 2001, the President certified that the terms of China’s WTO
overall accession agreement were at least equivalent to those of November 1999. As
provided in that agreement, a key textile-specific safeguard provision in China’s
WTO accession allows the United States and other Member countries to impose
temporary quotas on textile and apparel from China if they determine that Chinese-
origin imports of a product are causing “market disruption.” Under a safeguard
quota, China must hold its shipments of the goods in question at a level no greater
than 7.5% above the quantity entered during the previous year. A quota may
continue for a maximum of a year unless reapplied for, or unless the parties reach an
agreement. The safeguard provision expires December 31, 2008.
China officially joined the WTO on December 11, 2001, and the President
extended PNTR status to China on December 27, 2001, effective January 1, 2002.
However, the USTR’s WTO compliance reports have stated that while China has
made progress in meeting its WTO obligations, a number of serious problems remain
and new problems have emerged.25 The USTR’s December 2005 report stated that
China’s failure to comply with key areas of its commitments largely stemmed from
incomplete transition to a market-based economy.26 During 2006, some U.S. apparel
23 This was negotiated under the authority of the Trade Act of 1974, Title IV, Section 405.
Because it did not change U.S. tariffs or require change in U.S. law, it did not require
Congressional implementing legislation.
24 As noted above, other WTO members began the phase-out on January 1, 1995.
25 For example, see Executive Office of the President, United States Trade Representative
(USTR). 2004 Report to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance, December 11, 2004.
26 USTR, 2005 Report to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance, December 2005, p. 3.
For more details and analysis of U.S.-China trade relations, see CRS Report RL33536,
China-U.S. Trade Issues, by Wayne M. Morrison.
producers expressed concern about the injurious effects of China’s subsidies in the
U.S., Chinese, and third-country markets.27
China has insisted there are no more government credit policies favoring the
sector. Regarding a U.S. complaint that China has a fund to support technology
innovation and development of core technologies and equipment in the textiles
sector, China said the assistance was not a direct subsidy and that the fund was
intended help upgrade the sector in light of what it described as the "unfair treatment"
meted out to Chinese textile exporters by other WTO members.
Other Countries. Trade agreements with Australia, Bahrain, Chile, five Latin
American countries, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, and Vietnam also are part
of the textile and apparel trade context. Of these countries, however, only Singapore
and Vietnam presently are among the top 15 country sources of U.S. imports of
apparel or non-apparel textile end-use products.
The July 2001 bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam was followed by the U.S.
granting Vietnam conditional normal trade relations status in December 2001. Such
status greatly reduced U.S. tariffs on most imports from Vietnam, leading to a steep
rise in Vietnamese apparel exports to the United States. To address this, an April
but Vietnamese apparel exports to the United States continued to climb. In May
2006, the U.S. and Vietnam signed an agreement on the conditions for Vietnam's
accession into the World Trade Organization. To meet the WTO requirement that
members extend permanent normal trade relations in order to receive the benefits of
WTO membership in their bilateral trade relations (PNTR), Congress accorded
Vietnam PNTR status December 8, 2006, as part of the multifaceted H.R. 6406,2930
which the president signed a few days later.
The free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore,31 covering a broad range of
goods and services and of types of market access, contains rules of origin specific to
textiles and apparel. Singaporean textile and apparel exports to the United States are
duty free if made from yarn or materials further along the production chain of
Singaporean or U.S. origin. A limited amount of apparel from Singapore will be
exempt from this origin rule for eight years; and tariffs on such exports will be
27 USTR, 2006 Report to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance, Dec. 11, 2006, p. 42.
28 The bilateral agreement with Vietnam was enacted October 16, 2001 (P.L. 107-52) and
entered into force December 10, 2001. The textile agreement did not require Congressional
approval; Section 204 of the Agricultural Act of 1956 (P.L. 84-540) gives the President
authority to negotiate quotas on agricultural and textile goods.
29 A provision of the Trade Act of 1974 prohibited the United States from granting normal
trade relations with certain countries unless certain conditions are met.
30 Separately, WTO’s General Council approved Vietnam’s membership November 7, 2006.
Vietnam will become a member January 11, 2007, 30 days after it notified the WTO that it
had ratified its membership agreement. World Trade Organization, “Accessions, Viet Nam”
[http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/acc_e/a1_vietnam_e.htm] viewed Dec. 12, 2006.
31 The substance of the trade agreement with Singapore was concluded in November 2002.
Signed into law September 3, 2003 (P.L. 108-78), it entered into force January 1, 2004.
phased out over five years. The United States commits to more liberal rules of origin
once further liberalization of such rules is achieved in the WTO.
Before the U.S.-Vietnam Agreement of 2001 went into effect, Vietnam was not
among the top 30 sources of U.S. apparel imports. It was sixth in 2005. Singapore
was the 12th largest exporter of non-apparel textile end-products to the United States
in 2005. Some allege that Singapore is an illegal transshipment point for goods
produced in China.32 If true, greater scrutiny of origin under the Agreement may
reduce such transshipments.
The U.S.-Chile FTA covers a broad range of goods and services and types of
market access.33 Textiles and apparel become duty-free upon implementation of the
Agreement if they meet the specific textile and apparel rules of origin. In addition,
a limited yearly amount of textiles and apparel containing non-U.S. or non-Chilean
yarns or fabrics may also qualify for duty-free treatment.34 Chile is not among the top
The U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (DR-
CAFTA) initially was reached with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and
Nicaragua in December 2003. Costa Rica signed on in January 2004, and the
Dominican Republic joined in August 2004. DR-CAFTA immediately eliminates
duties on textiles and apparel that meet the rules of origin, but with significant
exceptions. Moreover, many products already enter the United States duty free under
the Caribbean Basin trade preference program (see below), as is the case for goods
if assembled from U.S.-made fiber or fabric. In 2005, the Dominican Republic, El
Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were among the top six export markets for U.S.
fibers and fabrics; and the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Honduras were
among the top twelve sources of U.S. of apparel imports.
DR-CAFTA passed the U.S. Congress in July 2005; and it was signed by the
President in August 2005 (P.L. 109-53). Labor groups and other interests criticized
the labor and environmental provisions and opposed easier entry of Central American
apparel and agricultural goods. The DR-CAFTA countries announced their intention
to strengthen compliance with laws protecting labor rights in mid-December 2004.35
DR-CAFTA has been ratified by the legislatures of the Dominican Republic, El
Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. However, there is significant
opposition to the agreement in many of the signatory countries, and ratification has
stalled in Costa Rica. Implementation of the agreement has been delayed from the
original target date of January 2006, causing negative political, and possibly
32 See, for example, Inside U.S. Trade, “FTAs Pass With Majority of Republicans;
Democratic Caucus Splits,” August 8, 2003.
33 The U.S,-Chile FTA went into force January 1, 2004.
34 The trade agreement with Chile was signed June 6, 2003, was signed into law September
35 “CAFTA Countries to Unveil Labor Initiative to Thwart Congressional Critics,” Inside
U.S. Trade, December 17, 2004. [http://www.insidetrade.com].
economic, repercussions in many countries. The United States has implemented the
agreement for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, and will do so
shortly for the Dominican Republic, which recently took measures that brought it into
conformity with DR-CAFTA provisions. Only Costa Rica has not ratified the
agreement — still needing legislative approval, which had been expected in 2006.36
Trade Preference Programs
Other parts of the U.S. textile and apparel trade are the trade preferences granted
by the United States to various countries, as a result of Congressional efforts to
stimulate economic growth in poorer regions of the world. Among its measures,
Congress has eased trade terms on textiles and apparel, as well as on other goods,
from Sub-Saharan, Caribbean, and Andean region nations. Given the large role
usually played by textiles and apparel in early industrial development, noted earlier,
it is reasonable to expect that these industries would be among the first to grow
rapidly in these regions.
Significant steps to improve U.S. economic ties with sub-Saharan Africa began
in the mid-1990s. Legislation implementing the Uruguay Round, directed the
Administration to develop an Africa trade and development policy and report on it
to Congress annually for five years. This, in turn, spurred Congressional interest in
African economic growth and in improving U.S.-sub-Saharan economic relations.
A series of measures have aimed at encouraging economic development and trade,
partly by liberalizing trade with qualifying sub-Saharan countries.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA; Title I, Trade and
Development Act of 2000; P.L. 106-200) gave preferential treatment to certain
apparel items from countries that met certain anti-transhipment and other
requirements. Articles admitted duty-free and quota-free included apparel assembled
from fabrics wholly formed and cut in the United States and yarn wholly formed in
the United States, apparel cut and assembled or knit-to-shape from fabrics or yarns
wholly formed in the United States, knit-to-shape sweaters made from certain wools,
and certified handmade and folklore items. Imports of certain apparel items were
freed of duties and quantitative restrictions only up to specified levels.
The Trade Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-210) amended AGOA by, among other things,
increasing the import cap on certain duty-free apparel items and clarifying that
apparel assembled from knit-to-shape components made in the United States and
garments from components cut both in the United States and beneficiary countries
are eligible for preferential treatment. In 2004, the AGOA Acceleration Act (P.L.
108-274), among other things, extended the AGOA program to 2015, liberalized
apparel rules of origin and benefits eligibility, made eligible for duty free treatment
apparel articles containing fabrics and yarns recognized in the North American Free
36 For more on DR-CAFTA, see CRS Report RL31870, The Dominican Republic-Central
America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), by J. F. Hornbeck.
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as being in short supply in the United States, regardless
of the source of such fabric and yarns, and extended to 2007 the right of “Lesser
Developed Countries” (LDC) to use yarn and fabric from third countries in apparel
production and still export duty-free to the United States.37 This right was extended
through 2012 by a multi-faceted H.R. 6111 on the final day of the 109th Congress.
The Caribbean Basin and Central America
The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) established the
Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), putting into law (effective January 1, 1984) trade
preferences (and some other benefits) in the form of unilateral preferential treatment
(duty-free, or at duty rates lower than those generally applicable) for most articles
imported from 24 beneficiary countries. A 1990 Act made the program permanent,
and made many otherwise dutiable products (except certain import-sensitive items)
eligible for duty-free preference.
However, the treatment of imports from Mexico under NAFTA put CBERA
country imports at a disadvantage vis à vis imports from Mexico. To address this, the
Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), Title II of P.L. 106-200, focused
mainly on preferential treatment of textiles and apparel. It added several eligibility
criteria and extended the transitional period of such treatment through September 30,
2008, or upon entry into force of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, whichever
comes first. Among other liberalizations, duty-free and quota-free treatment were
accorded to apparel assembled in a beneficiary country from fabric wholly formed
and cut in the United States from U.S.-made yarn, or from U.S.-made fabric from
U.S.-made yarn cut in a beneficiary country, and sewn with U.S.-made yarn. Benefits
were enhanced through a substantial increase in the quota ceilings for knit-to-shape
apparel and exclusion of the cost of trimmings and findings from the cost of U.S.
fabric components. But all dyeing, printing, and finishing of components except
sewing thread were newly required to be done in the United States. Of the 15
countries eligible for CBTPA benefits, only 8 have been designated to participate in
the program because they fully meet the eligibility criteria.38
Trade preferences for Andean nations began with the Andean Trade Preference
Act (ATPA), which provided a 10-year period of duty free or reduced-duty treatment
of selected products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. A limited program
enacted partly to counter illicit drug production and trade by enhancing other
economic opportunities, it excluded textiles and apparel, expired December 4, 2001.
37 RL31772, U.S. Trade and Investment Relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa: The African
Growth and Opportunity Act and Beyond, by Danielle Langton, and CRS Report RS21772,
AGOA III: Amendment to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, by Danielle Langton.
38 For discussion of broader issues in U.S. relations with the Caribbean see CRS Report
RL32160, Caribbean Region: Issues in U.S. Relations, by Mark P. Sullivan.
Congress reinstated and liberalized the ATPA in the Andean Trade Promotion
and Drug Eradication Act (part of the Trade Act of 2002). This expanded the scope
of benefits to newly include several categories of products, including some textile
and apparel items, as eligible for duty-free treatment; it provided treatment similar
to that received by Caribbean countries, including more relaxed certificate of origin
rules (similar those under NAFTA); it tightened transshipment and safeguard rules;
and it extended the program to December 31, 2006. However, the 2002 Trade Act
requires that all dying, printing, and finishing of U.S.-made fabric incorporated in
imported apparel be done in the United States for the apparel to get ATPA benefits.39
H.R. 6111 (cited under the AGOA discussion) extends the ATPA for six months
outright, and a further six-month extension on a country-by-country basis, provided
that the U.S. and the particular country both complete their legislative processes
toward implementing a free trade agreement.
U.S. Fiber and Fabric Exports to Trade Preference Regions
As described above, to reserve markets for U.S. manufacturers of yarn and
fabric, the trade preference programs for the most part require U.S.-made yarn and/or
fabric as inputs for textile and apparel end-products for them to qualify for trade
preference. U.S. domestic exports of fiber, yarn, and fabric to two of the three trade
Table 2. U.S. Exports of Yarn, Thread, and Fabric
to Trade Preference Countries
(millions of dollars)
Ye a r AGOA AT PA CBT PA T o t a l
2001 34 68 1,529 1,631
2002 27 63 2,085 2,175
2003 30 105 2,233 2,368
2004 31 114 2,609 2,754
2005 24 119 2,523 2,666
2006a 26 160 2,585 2,771
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Trade Database, compiled from tariff
and trade data from the Department of Commerce and the ITC.
a. First ten months at an annual rate.
39 For more on Andean region trade preferences, see CRS Report RL30790, The Andean
Trade Preference Act: Background and Issues for Reauthorization, by J. F. Hornbeck.
preference regions increased steeply in the early 2000s (Table 2), when the programs
went into effect. Among the three trade preference regions, CBTPA countries as a
group constitute the largest market by far for U.S. fiber, yarn, and fabric, with ATPA
and AGOA countries a distant second and third. U.S. exports of fiber, yarn, and
fabric to CBTPA countries, which had been rising at least since the mid-1990s,
increased sharply in 2001 and have risen further since then, although not as rapidly.
Exports to ATPA beneficiary countries rose sharply in 2003, and appear to be doing
so again in 2006. However, U.S. exports of fiber, yarn, and fabric to AGOA
countries, have remained low relative to those to ATPA and CBTPA countries,40
actually have declined since the late 1990s.
Shifts in Shares of World Textile and Apparel Trade
Reflecting changes in relative competitiveness, there have been large shifts in
many countries’ shares of world trade in textiles and apparel since the mid-1990s —
reverses as well as single-direction changes. Probably the most notable and well
known absolute and relative gains have been those by the People’s Republic of
China, which almost quadrupled its exports of textiles and more than tripled its
exports of clothing between 1993 and 2004 according to WTO data, which reflect
different definitions of textiles and clothing than used herein for U.S. trade data
(Table 3). (The WTO’s textile category includes non-apparel textile end-products
as well as fibers and fabrics. As of this writing, the latest WTO data are for 2004).
While much smaller in absolute terms than China’s gains, substantial changes
have been experienced by a number of other countries (also shown in Table 3).
However, in at least several cases, these changes have been quite uneven over time.
For example, textile exports by Turkey and the Czech Republic rose by 304% and
104%, respectively, between 1993 and 2004, and Romania’s exports of clothing
jumped by 638% between 1993 and 2004. Mexico’s exports of clothing in 2000
were seven times their 1993 level, but its 2004 clothing exports were 17% less than
its clothing exports in 2000. Other reversals involved the United States and
Indonesia. Exports by the former grew 82% between 1993 and 2000, but rose
slightly between 2000 and 2004. The 25 members of the European Union (EU) saw
their combined exports of textiles and of clothing to non-EU countries both increase
As a result of changes in export levels, some countries’ shares of world textile
and clothing exports have changed markedly. China’s share of world exports of
textiles more than doubled between 1993 and 2004, and its share of world exports of
clothing rose by two thirds over the same period (Table 4). India’s and Turkey’s
shares of world textile exports grew from 2.6% and 1.4%, respectively, to 4.0% and
3.3%. Korea’s, Japan’s, and Indonesia’s shares fell by about one third or more. The
United States’ share of world textile exports increased significantly between 1993
and 2000, but shrank between 2000 and 2004. EU members slightly expanded their
combined share between 2000 and 2004.
40 For details on U.S. exports of fiber, yarn, and fabric to trade preference regions, see CRS
Report RL32895, Textile Exports to Trade Preference Regions, by Bernard A. Gelb.
Table 3. Selected Countries With Large Changes
in Exports of Textiles and Clothing, 1993 to 2004
Value of Exports (billions of $)Total Percent Change
Country or Group1993200020041993-20002000-2004
T urkey 1.59 3.67 6.43 +131 +75
Canada 0.97 2.08 2.43 +114 +17
India 2.92 6.00 6.85 a +106 +14 a
Chi n a b 8.70 16.14 33.43 +85 + 107
European Union (25)n.a.17.2724.31n.a.+41
T a ipei 8.18 11.89 10.04 +45 -16
Republic of Korea8.9512.7110.84+42-15
Indonesia 2.64 3.51 3.15 +33 -10
Value of Exports (billions of $)Total Percent Change
Country or Group1993200020041993-20002000-2004
Mexicob 1.19 8.63 7.20 +625 -17
Roma nia 0.64 2.33 4.72 +264 +103
Bangladesh 1.24 3.91 4.44 +215 +14
Chi n a b 18.44 36.07 61.86 +96 + 71
European Union (25)n.a13.5419.13n.a.+41
Indonesia 3.50 4.73 4.45 +35 -6
V i etnam n.a. 1.82 3.98 n.a. + 119
T hailand 4.18 3.76 4.05 -10 + 8
Republic of Korea6.175.033.39-18-33
Note: Percent changes calculated from figures to three decimal points. Textiles include non-
apparel textile end-products as well as fibers and fabrics. Clothing excludes footwear.
n.a. - Not available or applicable.
a. 2003 instead of 2004.
b. Includes significant shipments through processing zones.
Sources: World Trade Organization (WTO), Annual Report 1996, Volume II, Tables IV.51,
IV.52, IV.58, and IV.59; WTO, International Trade Statistics 2005, Tables IV.74 and IV.82.
Table 4. Leading Country Exporters of Textiles and of Clothing,
1993, 2000, and 2004
Share of Total World Exports of Textiles
Country or Group199320002004
Chi n a a 8.0% 10.4% 17.2%
European Union (25)bn.a.11.212.5
Republic of Korea220.127.116.11
India 2.6 3.9 4.0 c
Paki stan 3.1 2.9 3.1
Indonesia 2.3 2.3 1.6
Share of Total World Exports of Clothing
Country or Group199320002004
Chi n a a 14.3% 18.3% 24.0%
European Union (25)bn.a.6.97.4
Mexicoa 0.9 4.4 2.8
India 3.0 3.1 2.8 c
Bangladesh 1.0 2.0 1.7
Indonesia 2.7 2.4 1.7
Roma nia 0.5 1.2 1.8
Notes: Countries were selected on the basis of their ranking for 2004. Textiles include non-
apparel textile end-products as well as fibers and fabrics. Clothing excludes footwear.
a. Includes significant exports through processing zones.
b. Extra-EU exports.
c. 2003 instead of 2004.
Sources: World Trade Organization (WTO), Annual Report 1996, Volume II, Tables IV.52
and IV.59; WTO, International Trade Statistics 2005, Tables IV.75 and IV.83.
With respect to clothing, Mexico’s share of world exports grew from 0.9% to
4.4% between 1993 and 2000, but then fell to 2.8%. Romania’s 2004 share was
about three and a half times that of its very small 1993 portion. Hong Kong’s share
of clothing exports shrank from 7.2% in 1993 to 3.2% in 2004. Bangladesh’s share
doubled from 1.0% in 1993 to 2.0% in 2000, but then decreased to 1.7% in 2004;
Indonesia’s share decreased during both sub-periods. The United States saw its share
of clothing exports shrink by almost one-half — from 3.8% in 1993 to 2.0% in 2004.
EU members slightly increased their combined share of world clothing exports
between 2000 and 2004.
Thus, China has increased its share of textile and apparel exports appreciably,
particularly rapidly since 2000, and the increase has come at the expense of both
developing and industrialized countries, except for the 25-member European Union.
Implementation and Effects of the Quota Phaseout
Completion of the phaseout of quotas on textile and apparel trade removes a
hindrance to industries with competitively-advantageous characteristics in some
countries to win markets from their counterparts in other developing countries and
in industrialized countries. Exporting country industries that had some assured
market access along with restricted quantities by virtue of an agreement with an
importing country now face more open competition, especially in labor-intensive
apparel manufacture/assembly. The actual extent of implementation of the phaseout,
however, has been uneven so far.
If implementation is defined as the ability of countries’ political leaders to
permit the provisions of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing to take full effect,
it can be argued that complete implementation may be difficult for at least three
reasons: (1) The fourth stage of import quota phaseout was large in terms of the
proportion of the volume of textile and apparel items that are scheduled to be freed
from quotas; (2) the fourth stage covered items that were left to the end because of
their domestic sensitivities; and (3) the phaseout is a major symbolic, as well as
actual, step toward further “globalization,” considered by some as economically and
environmentally oppressive and/or as an intrusion into their economic or personal
lives. The actuality of the economic consequences of the full effect of the ATC may
aggravate those negative feelings.
With respect to procedure, some considered it likely that parties that are harmed
by or perceive a threat from goods produced abroad would use the safeguard
mechanisms available,41 and at least with respect to the United States and the EU,
some safeguards already have been put in place (see discussion under “Pre- and Post-
41 This was anticipated by J. Michael Finger and others. See, for example, J. Michael
Finger. “Legalized Backsliding: Safeguard Provisions in the GATT,” in The Uruguay Round
and the Developing Countries, Will Martin and L. Alan Winters, Editors. World Bank
Discussion Paper No. 307, 1995.
Implementation Developments”). As described earlier, China’s WTO accession
agreement allows the United States and other Member countries to impose temporary
quotas on textile and apparel from the People’s Republic of China if they determine
that Chinese-origin imports of a product are causing “market disruption.” Moreover,
trade in textiles and apparel still is constrained to some extent by tariffs, which are
not required to be reduced by the ATC.
The expiration of the quotas on textile and apparel trade removes a hindrance
to winning markets for industries in countries with competitively-advantageous
characteristics. While low labor costs are important, numerous other factors in one
country can combine to offset lower labor costs in another country, or provide an
advantage over another country with comparable labor costs. “Other” factors include
labor skills, workforce availability, managerial quality, proximity to markets,
infrastructure suitability, degree of market access, quality and cost of material inputs,
availability and cost of capital, level of service, and business climate.
Labor skills and work force availability are among the factors that determine
effective labor costs. Better trained workers tend to be more productive, and wages
tend to be higher if textile and apparel producers face substantial competition for
workers from other parts of the economy. Geographical location and transportation
availability and proficiency affect delivered prices and shipment times. The market
access afforded by a trade preference (unilaterally provided or by agreement) might
offset disadvantageous characteristics, but this can depend heavily upon the strictness
or looseness of any rules of origin provisos. Quality and cost of inputs depends upon
factors such as the presence or absence of supplier industries, and/or upon other
access to raw materials and intermediate inputs, including the sizes of any tariffs on
imports of material inputs. Level of service includes product quality, scope of
service, reliability, and flexibility. Political stability, citizen safety, security of
operations, reliability of telecommunications, and the consistency, efficiency, and
honesty of the legal and commercial systems are among characteristics determining
a country’s business climate.
Pre- and Post-Phaseout Procedural Developments
Given the widespread pre-2005 prediction of substantial market capturing by
Chinese and other Asian exports, some developing country governments and textile
and apparel industries anticipated and serious negative impacts on their economies.
This led to a series of meetings, requests for measures to ease or extend the transition
to quota-free trade in textiles and apparel, and responses by China.
International Efforts. In March 2004, textile industry trade associations from
Turkey and the United States formulated the so-called Istanbul Declaration calling for
an emergency meeting of the WTO to review the the possibility of a three year
extension of the phaseout. The declaration was joined by textile producing
associations from 47 other countries in June 2004, at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
The next month, the government of Mauritius requested an emergency WTO meeting,
but did not propose to extend the quotas. Six other developing countries joined
Mauritius in September 2004 in calling for the WTO Secretariat to prepare a study on
adjustment-related issues and costs arising from quota elimination and to establish a
WTO program to discuss solutions to the problems identified by the study.42
Further efforts to establish a program to address such concerns were deadlocked
at an informal meeting of the WTO Council on Trade in Goods on October 26, 2004
– primarily due to efforts by China, India, and Brazil. The talks continued under
WTO auspices, however, and on December 10, 2004, China reached a compromise
with other developing countries in which the WTO would provide technical assistance
to the “beneficiaries” upon their request.43 In addition, in what some observers
considered an essentially ineffective gesture, China imposed export tariffs effective
January 1, 2005, on a number of textile products to slow its rising exports and “to
encourage the export of high value-added products and optimize the mix of Chinese
textile exports.”44 The number of items covered was unclear; one source, however,
estimated the average rate to be 1.3%.45 After threatening to increase the duties, China
rescinded them in late May 2005.46
An actual countermeasure was put in place soon after the quota phaseout became
effective. Exports of textiles and apparel from China to EU countries rose steeply and
unit prices in the latter fell in the first several months. Complaints from member
42 Global Alliance for Fair Textile Trade. “Istanbul Declaration Regarding Fair Trade in
Textiles and Clothing.” [http://www.fairtextiletrade.org/istanbul/declaration.html].
International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development. “International Textiles
Coalition Calls for Emergency WTO Meet.” Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, June 23,
2004. [http://www.ictsd.org]; “Textile Makers Shift Focus from Quota Extension to Quota
Safeguard,” China Update, Inside U.S. Trade, July 23, 2004, [http://www.insidetrade.com].
Mauritius Makes First Attempt to Discuss Textile Quota Phase Out in WTO,” China
Update, Inside U.S. Trade, July 23, 2004, [http://www.insidetrade.com].
The “Istanbul Declaration” referred to here is distinct from several other Istanbul
Declarations proclaimed by international groups in recent years. The others pertain to
matters ranging from the competitiveness of small business to NATO collective defense.
43 “WTO Members Deadlock on How to Address End of Textile Quotas, Pan Turkey’s
Proposal,” International Trade Reporter, BNA, Inc. October 28, 2004, p. 1747; “China Ends
Feud With Developing Nations on WTO-Sponsorship of Textile Aid Program,”
International Trade Reporter, BNA, Inc., December 16, 2004, p. 2030.
44 Mei Fong and Greg Hitt, “China Sets Textile-Export Duties, Easing Tension,” The Wall
Street Journal, December 14, 2004, p. A2; “Spokesman of MOFCOM Chong Quan: Taking
the Positive Measure to Promote Textile Export of Our Country to Realize Sustainable
Development,” Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, December 15,
Inside U.S.-China Trade, December 15, 2004, p. 1.
45 “CHINA: Industry seems to be little affected by new tax policies,” BharatTextile.com,
December 28, 2004, [http://www.bharattextile.com/newsitems/1993030]; “China to levy
export tax on textiles,” China Economic Net, January 1, 2005,
Clarifies Tariff Rates on Textile Exports,” [http://www.homelandsecuritymonitor.com
/index.htm]; December 30, 2004, viewed on January 3, 2005.
46 “China Raises Textile Export Tariffs,” The Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2005, p. A2;
Charles Hutzler, “Beijing Rescinds Textile Duties, Slams U.S., EU on Import Limits;” The
Wall Street Journal Online, May 31, 2005, p. A3.
countries led to a June 2005 agreement between the EU and China that applies
permitted safeguards that limit imports of ten categories of products until the end of
December 2007. In reality, while imports of China-origin goods had risen strongly,
the total amount of textiles and apparel imported from all countries had increased
U.S. Developments. U.S. textile and apparel market share gains by imports
continued into the immediate pre-phaseout period. For example, imports’ share of the
U.S. market for non-apparel textile end-products increased from 16.2 % in 1998 to
20.0% in 2001, and their share of the market for apparel and accessories rose from
45.1% in 1998 to 53.8% in 2001 (Table 5). These gains accelerated as a result of
particularly rapid increases in imports from China after quotas on China’s imports
began to decrease in 2002 as per the 1999 U.S.-China agreement. China’s shares of
the fiber, yarn, and fabric, the non-apparel end-product, and the apparel markets all
expanded substantially between 2001 and 2004. (The Table 5 percentages are rough
estimates, and should be considered approximations subject to the caveats in the
appendix to this report.)
Table 5. Imports’ Approximate Shares
of the U.S. Textile and Apparel Markets
Yarn, Thread, & FabricNon-apparel TextileApparel & Accessories
From..... End-Products From.....From.....
ChinaRest of WorldChinaRest of WorldChinaRest of World
1998 0.6 10.5 3.7 12.5 6.4 38.7
1999 0.6 11.1 4.0 13.2 6.6 40.8
2000 0.8 12.7 4.5 14.4 7.2 44.3
2001 0.7 13.4 4.9 15.1 7.8 46.0
2002 1.1 14.9 5.8 14.8 8.4 48.2
2003 1.3 15.0 8.6 16.8 10.8 54.3
2004 1.7 17.1 10.3 17.0 13.1 57.6
2005 2.7 18.6 12.5 17.2 18.5 52.9
2006 a 3.3 19.3 14.0 17.5 20.3 50.7
Note: The U.S. market in each category is approximated as U.S. manufacturers’ shipments
(manufacturers’ prices) plus imports less exports. Import data are on a customs value basis.
a. First ten months. Preliminary.
Sources: Bureau of the Census, Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2001; Bureau of the Census.
Benchmark Report for Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders: January 1992
Through December 2005, May 2006; Bureau of the Census, Full Report on Manufacturers’
Shipments, Inventories, and Orders,, October 2006, December 5, 2006. International Trade
Commission, Trade Database [http://www.dataweb.itc.gov/scripts].
The sharp increases in imports from China before the January 1, 2005 overall
quota phaseout prompted a series of procedural, political, and legal actions by various
U.S. interests, including the following. Three U.S. industry associations filed petitions
to the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) in July 2003
to invoke the safeguard relief available under China’s WTO accession agreement.
CITA notified China in December 2003 that it intended to impose quotas on those
product categories and requested consultations.47 A number of subsequent petitions
for safeguard actions were filed — a few pertaining to products still under quota
restrictions, and other quotas on other products were imposed the following two years.
Some Members of Congress, concerned over the potential impact of Chinese
imports on U.S. workers and on workers abroad when the textile and apparel quotas
expire, wrote to President Bush in mid-2004 requesting his support for asking the
WTO to re-examine the scheduled ending of quotas.48
Reflecting their interests, a group of major apparel retailers filed a motion at the
U.S. Court of International Trade on December 1, 2004, challenging the legality of
CITA’s action and asking for a preliminary injunction barring CITA, from taking
further action on petitions to impose safeguard quotas on imports of Chinese textile
and apparel products based on the threat of market disruption and on imports of
products still under quota. The group claimed that CITA was causing irreparable
harm by proceeding to consider the petitions using the threat of market disruption
instead of actual market disruption as a criterion for considering safeguard quotas.
Ultimately, an appeals court stayed an injunction imposed by the International Trade
Court, and CITA proceeded on several of the cases.
Between December 2003 and late October 2005, CITA formally requested
consultations with China — and simultaneously implemented quotas — on several
categories of apparel. On November 8, 2005, it was announced that the United States
and China had signed a three-year pact limiting China's exports of 34 textile and
apparel products until 2008, which was very similar to the agreement the European
Union had reached with China. China objected to U.S. imposition of the safeguard
quotas, especially those based upon an alleged threat of market disruption.49
Effect on U.S. Producers and the U.S. Economy
As already discussed and shown, U.S. manufacturers of textiles and apparel have
been losing market share to foreign producers for much of the post-World War II
period, continuing to recent years. With significant volumes of textile and apparel
47 Department of Commerce, “Evans Announces Result of China Textile Safeguard
er/18-evans_chinasafeguard_stmt.htm], viewed October 3, 2006..
48 House of Representatives letter dated June 7, 2004; Senate letter dated June 9, 2004,
[http://www.fairtextiletrade.org/newsroom/index.html], viewed October 3, 2006; "Members
of House, Senate Urge Bush Support for WTO Meeting on Textiles," International Trade
Reporter, BNA, Inc., June 17, 2004, p. 1014.
49 “Chinese Charge Free Trade Violations in U.S. Acceptance of Apparel Petitions,” Daily
Report for Executives, BNA, Inc., November 15, 2004.
imports already being affected, U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers, particularly
apparel makers, are being affected appreciably by the quota phaseout.
Assuming eventual full implementation of the phaseout (after safeguard measures
are no longer permitted), it is likely that imports will continue to increase, and U.S.
textile and apparel manufacturing production and employment will decrease further,
perhaps faster than in the past. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects
large decreases in output and employment in several components of U.S. textile and
apparel manufacturing. For example, production of five of the seven textile and
apparel industries addressed by BLS is projected to decline between 22% and 32%
between 2004 and 2014; and employment in those industries is projected to decrease
from 46% to 56% (Table 6). Output is projected to rise in two of the industries
(textile furnishings mills and other textile product mills), but BLS projects
employment even in those industries to drop. In all cases, employment is projected
to decrease faster than production.
Table 6. Production and Employment, 2004 and 2014,
of Selected U.S. Textile and Apparel Manufacturing Industries
Industry Productiona Employme nt Productiona Employme nt
(billion $)(thousands) (billion $)(thousands)
Fabric, yarn, & thread mills10.054.47.825.0
Textile & fabric finishingb11.269.98.435.7
Textile furnishings mills25.4103.034.590.7
Other textile product mills10.784.311.565.4
Apparel knitting mills8.044.05.621.5
Cut & sew apparel manuf.43.9231.532.8102.9
a. Constant 2000 dollars.
b. Includes fabric coating mills.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, obtained from “Industry Output, and Employment”
[http://www.bls.gov/emp/empind2.htm] viewed October 3, 2006.
However, there also will be benefits to the overall U.S. economy (and European
Union economies as well) from acceleration of imports of textiles and apparel from
developing economies. To the extent that prices of textiles and apparel fall, or are
lower than they would be without a quota phaseout, as a result of the expected
increase in competition from foreign-produced goods, U.S. industrial users of these
products and U.S. consumers/households should benefit. U.S. importers of textiles
— domestic apparel manufacturers that use or hope to use foreign-made textile inputs,
domestic apparel wholesalers, and large chain stores — will tend to benefit vis-à-vis
competitors who use less imports.
Also, value added per worker in textiles and apparel production is considerably
lower than in manufacturing as a whole. Substitution of foreign-made for
domestically-produced textiles and apparel will tend to further the long term shift in
the U.S. economy from lower to higher value added industries, and tend to increase
average wages in manufacturing if labor is sufficiently mobile.
Effects on Developing Countries
The phaseout of textile and apparel quotas tends to remove an obstacle to
industries in lower-labor-cost nations (generally, developing countries) to win markets
from their counterparts in industrialized countries. Thus, it is reasonable to expect
that the shift in textile and apparel production from developed to developing countries
will continue. Moreover, there is considerable scope for the shift to at least continue,
inasmuch as industrialized countries still accounted for about 59% of world textile
production and 66% of world apparel production in 2004.50 Also, in general,
elimination of quotas provides more scope to countries whose industries are more
efficient to gain at the expense of countries with less efficient industries. (In this
context, efficiency particularly connotes the ability to produce at a lower cost
measured in a common currency.)
In some cases, whatever gains in physical sales volume that textile and apparel
exporters derive as a result of the quota phaseout may be offset to some extent by
lower prices per unit that result from free access to markets. In a quota regimen,
prices tend to be higher than they otherwise would be as quotas act as a rationing
device. In some cases, textile and apparel producers subject to quotas benefit by
receiving the higher prices (on smaller volumes) themselves. Sometimes, the higher
prices are in the form of formal quota charges added to the market price by private
sector exporters (manufacturers or others) that hold entitlements to quotas, or by the
government that administers the quotas.
A key goal of and expectation from the ATC quota phaseout was that world
economic welfare will improve. A summary of quantitative studies on the impact of
the phaseout that was prepared in connection with a conference on that subject51
reported that all the reviewed studies produced estimates that global welfare will
increase, but with considerable variation of magnitude among the studies and
considerable variation in the distribution of welfare gains by region and/or country.
The estimates of most of the studies indicated that developing countries will be the
main beneficiaries of the quota phaseout, but some studies resulted in estimates
showing that developing countries would experience diminished welfare in the
aggregate. However, the modeling results of the studies consistently indicated that
there will be a considerable shift in textile and apparel production and trade to Asian
and other developing countries, with such production falling and imports increasing
in industrialized countries.52
50 International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics 2006, p. 50.
51 “The Future of Textiles and Clothing After 2004.” European Commission for Trade,
Brussels, May 5-6, 2003.
52 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Trade Directorate,
Working Party of the Trade Committee. “Liberalizing Trade in Textiles and Clothing: A
Similar outcomes regarding textile and apparel trade and production have been
indicated by many other studies, including those by the U.S. International Trade
Commission 53 and by Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås, for the WTO.54
China. As discussed above, most trade participants, analysts, and observers
expected that the quota phaseout would result in increased exports of textiles and
apparel by developing countries as a whole. During the Uruguay Round of trade
negotiations, it was the developing countries that espoused the phaseout most strongly.
However, it became widely believed and feared — now seemingly justified — that
China will be a major beneficiary at the expense of most other developing countries,
although India and Pakistan are expected to benefit appreciably as well.55 Data and
China is an especially vigorous and strong competitor in a world textile and
apparel trading regimen by virtue of its rapid industrialization, large economy,
substantial natural resources, fast economic growth, and large population. Also, it has
fewer trade rule restraints now that, as a member of the WTO, its quotas have expired.
A major factor is China’s quasi-privatization of its agricultural sector and consequent
gain in productivity, which is releasing portions of its large rural population from
agricultural work for employment in urban industrial centers. Such large availability
of workers tends to restrain wage rates. The ITC study and some others see China as
having low labor costs, high productivity, locally-produced materials, and able to
make “almost any type of textile and apparel product at any quality level at a56
competitive price.” In addition, many assert, China uses unfair trade practices such
as currency manipulation.57
Other Asian Countries. While China is expected to become, and may well
have become, the supplier of choice, a few Asian countries are expected to retain
significant roles as suppliers to the world market for textiles and clothing. U.S. and
other major market importers are expected to try to reduce the risk of sourcing from
only one country. India has a large, versatile, strongly competitive manufacturing base
with low labor costs; and Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam have sufficiently low
labor costs to compete well in some product markets. Vietnam has sharply increased
Survey of Quantitative Studies.” Paris: May 2, 2003. Most of the studies reviewed used
general equilibrium models in their analyses. This summary subsequently was included in
the OECD report, A New World Map in Textiles and Clothing, Paris: 2004.
53 U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). Textiles and Apparel: Assessment of the
Competitiveness of Certain Foreign Suppliers to the U.S. Market, USITC Publication 3671,
Vols. I and II. Washington: January 2004.
54 Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås. The Global Textile and Clothing Industry Post the Agreement
on Textiles and Clothing. World Trade Organization. Geneva: 2004.
55 Such a conclusion was reached by both the ITC and Nordås.
56 ITC. Textiles and Apparel: Assessment. Vol. I, pp. xi and xiii.
57 For an analysis of the economic issues raised by China's currency policy, see CRS Report
RL32165, China's Currency: Economic Issues and Options for U.S. Trade Policy, by Wayne
M. Morrison and Marc Labonte.
its exports of clothing recently, but is subject to quotas until it becomes a member of
the WTO. Once a major supplier of clothing to the world market, Hong Kong
probably will continue to lose market share because of its relatively high costs.
Countries With U.S. Trade Preferences. Inasmuch as tariffs were not
phased out along with MFA quotas on January 1, 2005, countries eligible for duty-free
U.S. textile trade preferences may have a potential advantage over some other
potential suppliers, depending greatly upon beneficiary countries’ geographical
proximity to the United States. Thus, it is not surprising that the Caribbean countries
as a group constitute the largest market by far for U.S. fiber, yarn, and fabric among
the three U.S. trade preference regions (Table 2). As noted earlier, U.S. domestic
exports of fiber, yarn, and fabric to CBTPA countries, which had been rising at least
since the mid-1990s, increased sharply in 2001 (the calendar year following the going
into effect of the CBTPA) and have risen further since then. However, it should not
be inferred that geographical proximity is the only factor in determining competitive
Regional Trade Agreements
There is a separate issue of the effects of the quota phaseout on the textile and
apparel industries in countries that are parties to the numerous regional and bilateral
trade agreements and now in place, and vice versa. Generally, it would appear that the
phaseout would tend to diminish the benefits of regional agreements to the
participating parties. On the other hand, the structural relationships formed as a result
of such trade agreements may limit the hoped for gains of the textile and apparel quota
Appendix: Estimating Imports’ Share
of the U.S. Textile and Apparel Markets
To reflect as closely as possible the structure of textile and apparel
manufacturing, textiles and apparel were disaggregated into three categories: (a) yarns,
fibers, and fabrics – the basic materials for manufacturing textile end-products; (b)
finished textile products other than apparel; and (c) finished apparel and apparel
accessories. The framework now used to collect and compile industry and product
data in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, the North American Industry
Classification System, uses these classifications for textiles and apparel.
The percentages provided in Table 5 are rough estimates in which the total value
of imports in each of the above textile and apparel categories is related to the
approximate sizes of the U.S. market of each of the categories. In each case, the latter
was estimated by a frequently used method of approximating the size of a national
market for a particular category of goods, which adds total shipments by domestic
manufacturers of the category of goods to total imports of the category of goods and
subtracts exports of that category of goods. Thus, the “market” is implicitly defined
as total purchases at manufacturers’ prices of the particular category of goods in the
country. The import data essentially are at manufacturers’ prices and are on a customs
This approach to estimating market share, while relatively simple and convenient
to use, disregards the fact that the total value of shipments by an industry contains
some double counting of the value of its output. This is because some industry firms
produce material inputs that are sold to other companies in the industry that further
transform the materials. And, as is the usual practice, the sales totals (value of
shipments) of the former group are both included as a component of total industry
sales and, in effect, in the sales totals of the latter group, inasmuch as the value of the
former group’s output is included in the value of the latter group’s output. The value
of imported goods produced by industries in foreign countries does not include such
double counting, however. Thus the numerator of the ratio (imports of textiles and
apparel from China) is not comparable to the denominator, as the measure of the U.S.
market for textiles and apparel includes double counting. The effect is to understate
imports’ share of the U.S. textiles and apparel markets.