Monday, December 29, 2008

Perfect Timing

Well, not really.

At issue are limits on the number of cotton trousers, golf shirts, babies' socks and more than 30 other textile products that China can export to the United States. The quotas expire at the end of this year, and, under a World Trade Organization agreement, the U.S. government can't reimpose restrictions on Chinese textiles.

The industry is worried that what happened in 2005, when similar safeguards were lifted temporarily, will happen again in 2009.

China flooded the U.S. market in 2005, with a more than 1,500 percent increase in cotton trousers alone. While that drove down the prices of those products for American consumers, U.S. textile companies lost about 55,000 jobs that year, more than 8 percent of the industry's work force, trade officials say.