Implementation of Trade Restrictions for Textiles and Apparel

NSIAD-84-18: Published: Nov 4, 1983. Publicly Released: Nov 14, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the current administration of the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA), an international agreement that provides the legal framework for regulating textile trade.

In the United States, MFA is implemented by the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), which consists of representatives from the Departments of Commerce, State, Labor, and the Treasury, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. CITA determines whether and when to request consultations with an exporting country about restricting its exports of a particular category of textiles or apparel. GAO found that the structure of the decisionmaking process within the administration and CITA is generally adequate. However, weaknesses in information on the domestic economy lessen the persuasiveness of market disruption statements, which are required with each request for consultation on restricting imports. The data for these statements are collected annually and, therefore, are too old to reflect current conditions. They are not compatible with the categories in the consultation requests and contain only vague assertions as to the current state of the market for the category in question.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Commerce directed the Census Bureau to draft legislation requiring mandatory quarterly reporting of domestic production data compatible with MFA categories. Legislation was referred in the 1985 session to the House and Senate committees. H.R. 2721 was passed. The Census Bureau received Office of Management and Budget approval and began to collect data for the first quarter of 1987.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Chairman, CITA, to arrange with the Bureau of the Census to begin collecting data compatible with MFA categories on a quarterly basis. If the Census Bureau finds that information obtained from domestic manufacturers on a voluntary basis is not sufficient for statistical validity, then the Secretary of Commerce should request Congress to enact legislation making such response mandatory.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Documentation was included in OTA files when a consultation request was made indicating why other major suppliers have not been the subjects of requests.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Chairman, CITA, to ensure that documentation is included in OTA files when a consultation request is made and, to the extent practical, in the disruption statements, indicating why other major suppliers have not been the subjects of requests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Chairman, CITA, included an abbreviated discussion of the justification for the consultation request in the Federal Register notice.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Chairman, CITA, to include either the disruption statement itself or an abbreviated discussion of the justification for the consultation request in the Federal Register notice.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

 

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