The US Department of Commerce (DOC) said it has begun receiving a second round of public comments from the apparel industry on products from Vietnam, a supervisory mechanism first instituted last year.
The DOC-opened the second round of public debate last week to get sector input from US businesses, retailers and garment factory workers, a monitoring program designed to identify issues of concern in the industry.
The first round kicked off last year after the DOC began removing quota controls on Vietnamese exporters, to be phased out completely this month after the Southeast Asian nation formally entered the WTO (Jan 11).
The department said the process generates comments on information provided by exporters, the cap on apparels category, information reviews and investigations.
According to lawyers from the US Vinson & Elkins LLP law firm, local exporters could face higher taxation from the public input, pressured by senators Dole and Graham of North Carolina, where the US textile industry is most influential.
If the US discovers that Vietnam has violated WTO rules or subsidises local garment companies, it would have the right to re-impose the quota mechanism on Vietnam-sourced products.
The surveillance would be carried out every six months and could result in anti-dumping cases against Vietnam if apparel exports surge and dramatically impact the industry stateside.
Five apparel items likely subjected to the anti-dumping tax in the immediate time includes shirts, trousers, underwear, sweaters and swim wear – products that make up 60 percent of the total apparel exports of Vietnam to the US.
The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) said that imports of these products would face strict supervision, and the possibility of these products being hit with an anti-dumping tax was higher than other products.
Vitas said the worst case scenario, in which Vietnamese partners would shift their orders to other markets in order to avoid the tax.
Written comments and electronic files of interested parties must be received by the set deadline of January 31 with the program set to expire at the end of the current administration, January 19, 2009.
Vietnam now ranks sixth among apparel exporters to the US. The country’s textile industry earned US$5.8 billion in export turnover last year, including $3.1 billion to the US.