Textile Trade:

Operations of the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements

NSIAD-96-186: Published: Sep 19, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements' (CITA) role in administering the U.S. textile program, focusing on: (1) CITA authority, functions, resources, and costs under the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) and the 1994 Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC); (2) the CITA process for imposing quotas; (3) CITA use of data to make quota decisions; (4) CITA use of ATC temporary import quota safeguards in 1995; (5) European Union (EU), Canadian, and Japanese use of quotas under MFA and ATC and their processes for imposing quotas; and (6) the U.S. International Trade Commission's (ITC) safeguard process.

GAO found that: (1) CITA has broad delegated authority to impose quotas when it determines that imports are causing or threatening to cause damage to the domestic textile industry; (2) since its main function, to implement textile agreements, has not changed under ATC, CITA does not expect its workload to increase significantly, but it will continue to participate in negotiations for bilateral quota agreements; (3) CITA received about $3.6 million in fiscal year 1995 from five agencies and had a staff of 33 provided by the Department of Commerce to support CITA operations; (4) CITA has not published guidelines or procedures describing its quota decisionmaking process; (5) CITA tries to match import data and domestic production data to establish a causal link between imports and damage to domestic producers on a case-by-case basis before requesting consultations with exporting countries and seeking comments from interested parties; (6) CITA uses U.S. government statistics in its quota decisionmaking process, but some data compatibility problems occur due to varying collection methods; (7) the United States has been the only country to impose quotas under ATC; (8) EU and Canada have imposed quotas under MFA, but Japan has never imposed any quotas; (9) although EU and Canada use similar import data, their decisionmaking processes are different; and (10) the ITC quota decisionmaking process differs significantly from CITA because it is based on U.S. legislation that stipulates specific procedures and time-frames for imposing quotas and holding public hearings.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress gave consideration to this recommendation but it found the recommendation was no longer relevant as CITA imposed very few quotas on textile and apparel following the issuance of GAO's report.

    Matter: If Congress is dissatisfied with the amount of transparency in CITA operations, it may wish to consider such measures as requiring CITA to publish its operating procedures, the minutes of its meetings (edited to protect proprietary or other sensitive information), and voting records.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress gave consideration to this recommendation but it found the recommendation was no longer relevant as CITA imposed very few quotas on textile and apparel following the issuance of GAO's report.

    Matter: In the area of decisionmaking, Congress may wish to consider establishing threshold levels for import increases or production declines that would prompt consideration of imposing quotas.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress gave consideration to this recommendation but it found the recommendation was no longer relevant as CITA imposed very few quotas on textile and apparel following the issuance of GAO's report.

    Matter: In the area of decisionmaking, Congress may wish to consider directing CITA to make quota decisions on the basis of consensus among its members.

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress gave consideration to this recommendation but it found the recommendation was no longer relevant as CITA imposed very few quotas on textile and apparel following the issuance of GAO's report.

    Matter: In the area of oversight, Congress may wish to consider establishing a high-level interagency body to review CITA decisions to impose quotas. This body could be similar to the Textile Trade Policy Group that existed between 1975 and 1987.

 

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