GAO Report Criticizes U.S. Textiles Safeguard Procedures
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report stating that procedural shortcomings have impeded U.S. textile producers from taking full advantage of the textile safeguard provisions the United States negotiated as part of China's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession agreement. The report entitled U.S.-China Trade: Textile Safeguard Procedures Should be Improved, resulted from a request included in the House-Senate conference report on fiscal year 2004 appropriations legislation asking the GAO to monitor and report on the efforts of U.S. government agencies responsible for ensuring free and fair trade with China.
The report explains the terms of the China textile safeguard, summarizes the context and results of requests for safeguard action that have been filed by U.S. domestic textile and apparel producers, and evaluates U.S. government agencies' procedures for access to the safeguard provision.
GAO investigators found that the multi-agency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) had been slow to issue procedural guidelines for applying the China textile safeguard. When finally issued, the procedures focused primarily on cases involving actual disruption of markets, but neglected to provide clear guidance on so-called "threat-based" requests for safeguard action. The report urges improvements in implementation procedures. The GAO found that another shortcoming of the procedures is that they require safeguard requests to include specific market-share and production data. However, because the U.S. government lacks production data on about half of the total value of textile and apparel imports from China U.S. producers are forced to collect their own data, a process that further impedes access to the safeguard procedures for many U.S. producers.
The GAO report submitted two recommendations to CITA as a result of its study: it urged CITA to clarify its procedures for threat-based cases and to increase availability of required production data.
The GAO's report can be found at the following link: www.gao.gov/new.items/d05296.pdf.