ITCB members want ATC implementation process improved

by Chakravarthi Raghavan

Geneva, 15 July -- Third World Textiles and Clothing exporting countries have decided to formulate and present to the WTO General Council and its Seattle preparatory process, proposals for importing developed countries to improve the process and quality of their implementation of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing.

According to a communique of the International Textiles and Clothing Bureau (ITCB), issued after the meeting of the Council at Bhurban in Pakistan, the exporting developing country members also expressed their concerns over the use of anti-dumping actions by the EC, and rules of origin and transitional safeguards measures being applied by the United States.

All these are planned to be taken by the ITCB in the runup to Seattle under the rubric of implementation of the Uruguay Round agreements.

Evaluating the ATC, half-way through its 10-year life, the ITCB Council of Representatives, noted the lack of commercially meaningful progress towards elimination of restrictions and the consequent failure of the importing countries using these restrictions (Canada, US, EU and Norway) to achieve a progressive process of integration.

The ATC, the ITCB members said, "shall be fully implemented and well within the time-frame", and to achieve this purpose the process of implementation should be improved.

The ITCB Council was concerned however that the implementation of the commitments already undertaken is being sought to be conditioned by additional sectoral access by the developing countries.

The ATC, and all the restrictions sanctioned under it, terminates on 1 Jan 2005, and the entire trade in textiles and clothing is to be brought under normal GATT/WTO disciplines. But with both the US and EC's integration programmes now providing for integration of the "most sensitive" products at the very last stage, there is some concern that there would be attempts before 1 Jan 2005 to continue the ATC in some form beyond that period.

The ITCB members are to continue consultations in Geneva and submit, in relation to the preparations for the 3rd Ministerial Conference, proposals on how to improve the process and quality of implementation.

The Council also discussed the use by importing countries of anti-dumping, rules of origin and transitional safeguards to hit developing country exports.

The EC has been using anti-dumping investigations repeatedly to hit imports of cotton textile yarns and other products. The US has been using rules of origin to similarly hit such exports.

The ITCB Council said that arbitrary changes in rules of origin and administrative procedures have substantially disrupted trade and impeded full utilization of access under the ATC. (SUNS4478)

The above article first appeared in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) of which Chakravarthi Raghavan is the Chief Editor.

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