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NCTO renews call for tariffs on China apparel

  • According to the NCTO, finished apparel, home furnishings and other made-up textile goods account for 93.5% of US imports from China in the textile sector, while fibre, yarn and fabric imports from China represent only 6.5%.

  • The NCTO has reiterated its call for the inclusion of finished textile and apparel products on any future lists of imports from China to be made subject to Section 301 tariffs.


Finished apparel, home furnishings and other made-up textile goods equate to 93.5% of US imports from China in the textile sector.

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) has reiterated its call for finished textile and apparel products to be included on the list of proposed Section 301 tariffs on $200bn in imports from China.

Speaking at a hearing on the issue organised by the US Trade Representative yesterday (20 August), Sara Beatty, senior vice president of the NCTO, reaffirmed the organisation's support of President Donald Trump's pursuit of a Section 301 case to address what it calls China's "rampant IP abuses" on US textile and apparel manufacturers.

The NCTO wants the retaliatory list to feature finished apparel that tracks with product being sourced from US free trade agreement (FTA) partners, textile-based home furnishings, and advanced technical textile products.

"While products in Chapters 50-60 covering textile fibres, yarns and fabrics are on the subject US$200bn list, finished apparel and other sewn products in Chapters 61-63 are again absent," Beatty said in her testimony. "The US textile industry is disappointed by this repeated omission."

The USTR is this week holding public hearings at the US International Trade Commission in Washington regarding the additional tariffs on around US$200bn worth of Chinese products. Tariffs on $34bn in goods from China are currently in effect, and tariffs on an further $16bn will take effect on 23 August.

According to the NCTO, finished apparel, home furnishings and other made-up textile goods equate to 93.5% of US imports from China in the textile sector, while fibre, yarn and fabric imports from China represent only 6.5%. Given that apparel and other sewn products made in China almost always contain Chinese inputs, a significantly greater value of fibres, yarns and fabrics made in China enter the US market in the form of Chinese-made downstream finished products than at the input stage, it says.

"Noting textiles have been identified as a key industry under the Made in China 2025 plan and Chinese-made textiles gain significant competitive advantages in the US market through intellectual property theft, NCTO agrees that textiles should be part of the administration's 301 strategy," Beatty said.

Most of China's 10m direct textile and apparel jobs are concentrated at the final steps of the supply chain: the highly labour-intensive cutting and sewing operations. As such, the NCTO says imposing tariffs on end items would maximise US leverage in bringing China to make meaningful reforms.

"Further, the importance of targeting finished products on the retaliation list is not only derived from the fact that China predominantly ships end items versus intermediate inputs, but also because end item imports most directly and negatively impact US textile and apparel production, investment and jobs," Beatty explained. "China's apparel and other textile-based end items compete head-to-head with like western hemisphere products that typically are made from US fibres, yarns and fabrics."

The NCTO is also finalising feedback on a line-by-line basis to identify products where the US textile industry would be negatively impacted by additional tariffs of 10%, or up to 25%, on product from China. A number of its member companies are also filing comments "speaking to their unique circumstances."

The textile lobby has recommended acrylic and rayon staple fibres be removed from the list as they "will only undercut US competitiveness for manufacturers that utilise them without bolstering US producers, of which none exist."

Beyond the traditional textile chapters, the NCTO also urges the removal of certain chemicals, dyes and finishes that it says are integral to the textile manufacturing process and create value-add in US products.


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