The Commerce Department yesterday found illegal subsidies in six cases involving imports of textiles and apparel, but reported no violations of trade laws in another six cases. Penalty duties equaling the amount of the subsidies, which range from 1.23 to 9.87 percent, will be imposed.
The findings involved six of 13 countries that were accused by American textile and apparel makers and their unions of illegally supsidizing their products. The accused countries had not signed an antisubsidies agreement and therefore could be assessed penalty duties without U.S. manufacturers having to prove they suffered injury from the unfair trade practices.
The American Textile Manufacturers Institute, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the Textile Workers Union expressed "bitter disappointment" with the Commerce Department decision for not going far enough.
The department reported textile subsidies by Argentina of 4.53 percent, Peru 2.88 percent and Sri Lanka 5 percent, and apparel subsidies by Argentina of 9.87 percent, Sri Lanka 3.06 percent and Thailand 1.23 percent. The penalty duties will equal the amount of the subsidies.
In the cases of Mayalasia and Singapore, subsidies on textiles and apparel were considered so small as to be negligable, while complaints against Thailand's textile makers were suspended when the exporters promised to give up subsidies.
In addition, Indonesia, Turkey and Portugal agreed to phase out their illegal subsidies, thus gaining the extra protection of the so-called injury test requiring proof that their imports hurt domestic producers.
The textile industry and unions attacked the decision. "Shipments from the four countries which have been let off the hook have increased 272 percent in the past two years," ATMI President James H. Martin Jr. said. But the Commerce Department reported that imports from all countries for which decisions were announced yesterday accounted for just 2.32 percent of all textile and apparel products imported by the United States.