U.S. Offer on Vietnam Market Access Damages U.S. Cotton/Hemispheric Partners
The U.S. government reportedly has negotiated textile and apparel quota levels in bilateral negotiations with Vietnam that the NCC believes will adversely affect the U.S. cotton industry’s production and manufacturing sectors.
MEMPHIS - The U.S. government reportedly has negotiated textile and apparel quota levels in bilateral negotiations with Vietnam that would adversely affect the U.S. cotton industry’s production and manufacturing sectors.
Representatives of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office informed cotton industry representatives that the negotiated quota levels were based on recent trade activity. However, in the same meeting USTR officials revealed that recent spot checks by the U.S. Customs Service of shipments reputedly from Vietnam revealed a significant volume of highly sensitive products actually were transshipped from China. That means Vietnam’s quotas would be based on erroneous, inflated trade statistics.
U.S. negotiators reportedly have offered quotas for cotton knit shirts and woven pants that are more than double the reported shipments from Vietnam. Knit cotton shirts and woven cotton pants are products that offer the greatest potential for mutually beneficial trade between the U.S. and countries in the Caribbean and Andean regions, negating years of hard work by Congress in passing the Caribbean Basin Initiative and Andean Trade Preferences Acts.
National Cotton Council Chairman Robert W. Greene, a cotton ginner from Courtland, AL, said, "I am dismayed that the U.S. government would even consider negotiating overly-generous quotas with Vietnam while the U.S. textile industry is reeling from surging imports of textiles and apparel from China. The U.S. government has yet to establish safeguards that were guaranteed with respect to Chinese trade and is now offering doubled market access to Vietnam knowing that trade data is tainted by Chinese transshipments."
Greene further noted that "this offer seriously damages U.S. cotton growers and textile manufacturers. U.S. cotton and cotton products flowing to Western Hemisphere trading partners under preferential or free trade agreements have the potential to benefit all segments of the U.S. cotton industry and our trading partners. The market access offered to Vietnam by the U.S. negotiators could largely preclude much of the potential benefit from future Western Hemisphere trade agreements. The U.S. government should immediately implement unilateral restraints and only renew negotiations with Vietnam when trade data can be verified."