Time is running out on Chinese-made slacks and shorts being imported this year into the U.S. At the rate those items are coming in, the U.S. could slap an embargo as early as Oct. 22, which would be the tail end of shipments for the holiday season and the beginning of shipments for the spring. A little background: China is a World Trade Organization member that ordinarily wouldn't worry about quotas, but the U.S. imposed special safeguard measures on that country in late 2005, slapping quotas on 34 categories of textiles. Last year, none of the quotas were used up, but this year is different. As explained by Debbie Belgum in California Apparel News, L.A.-area apparel companies are keeping an especially close eye on the numbers. Some are beginning to relocate their sourcing to other Asian countries.
Because shorts are included in the embargo cutoff date, retailers trying to ship Spring goods before the end of the year may be affected, said John Clark, vice president of import production administration for Paul Davril Inc., a 33-year-old Los Angeles company that produces private-label goods as well as clothing under the Kenneth Cole and Ecko Red labels in overseas factories. “For those big people who need to ship their Spring goods early, it screws them up,” Clark said.
For many apparel importers trying to diversify beyond China, Vietnam has become an attractive manufacturing site ever since it joined the World Trade Organization on Jan. 11. WTO membership meant that just about all apparel quotas into the United States disappeared. Or so it seemed. Early this year, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would monitor apparel imports from Vietnam to ascertain whether that country was dumping goods at below cost. Monitoring will take place until the end of the Bush administration. The government is scrutinizing five apparel categories: trousers, shirts, underwear, swimwear and sweaters.