Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

WTO: US rules out duty-free access on clothing?

The US appears to have categorically ruled out giving preferential market access on clothing to poor but "very competitive" nations such as Bangladesh. United States Trade Representative Rob Portman said at the Hong Kong WTO meeting that, while the US was prepared to extend quota-free and duty-free access for most manufactured products to most very poor countries, it was unlikely to offer the concession for textiles to countries like Bangladesh or Cambodia. "The US is clear about this… some poor countries are very competitive in some areas like Bangladesh (in textiles), which already is a big exporter to US market," he told reporters. The US National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) had warned that by giving Bangladesh duty-free access under the EU proposal, other developing and least developed countries would be hit hard. US textile producers are also worried that China supplies Bangladesh with the bulk of its textile components which could further increase with rising apparel exports. WTO members reached a compromise agreement at the Hong Kong about trade liberalisation generally which sets the stage for further negotiations in 2006. The EU consented to an end date for all agricultural export subsidies by of 2013, with some provisos The US and other developed countries, in consequence, agreed to eliminate all forms of export subsidies for cotton by the end of 2006 and provide duty free/quota free access for cotton exports from the poorest countries. While a final compromise was not achieved on trade-distorting domestic subsidies for cotton production, the US assented to a final text that calls for these subsidies to be reduced more ambitiously and quickly than those for other farm products.