According to an article in the New York Times, the Bush administration, reacting to a flood of Chinese clothing imports since January, began a process to impose import quotas on shirts, trousers, and underwear. The administration said it would investigate the need to improve new quotas to prevent a “market disruption.” The announcement came just three days after the Commerce Department published data showing that imports of cotton knit shirts increased 1,257 percent in the first three months of 2005 compared with the first quarter of 2004. Imports of Chinese cotton trousers jumped 1,500 percent, while imports of underwear tripled. Textile executives were jubilant and very pleased when they heard that the government was going to take action. According to Lloyd Wood, spokesman for the American Manufacturing Trade Coalition, “It sends a strong message to China that predatory trade practices will be investigated.” However, Eric Autor, vice president for international trade at the National Federation of Retailers said that “Imposing new quotas is just going to impose a hidden tax on consumers.”
American Textile executives say the latest surge of Chinese imports has hit them directly. The National Council of Textile Organizations says at least 17 textile mills have closed and 17,000 industry jobs have vanished since Jan. 1. Some analysts have predicted that China will capture as much as 70 percent of the United States market if nothing is done. Do you agree that the administration should re-impose quotas on textiles imported from China to protect US manufacturers? Or do you agree with Eric Autor, that as a consumer you don’t want to pay any extra taxes on these items?