Spratt Statement on Record U.S. Trade Deficit
December 15, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
- For Immediate Release
Contact: Chuck Fant, 202-225-5501
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), co-chairman of the Congressional Textile Caucus, issued the following statement in response to today's Commerce Department report that the U.S. trade deficit has set a new monthly record of $68.9 billion.
"The Commerce Department reported today that the trade deficit jumped 4.4 percent in October, setting a new monthly record of $68.9 billion. Last year, our current account deficit hit an all-time high, $666 billion, and that record will clearly be exceeded by this year's deficit.
"Our trade deficit with China alone reached a record $162 billion last year - the largest trade imbalance ever recorded by the United States with a single country. This year, it could go to $200 billion. "Imports of textile and apparel products from China to date have risen 59 percent, or $7.2 billion, from a year ago.
"These figures are cause for concern and a call to action. "The Bush Administration has invoked a special safeguard agreement with China to impose quotas on certain textile/apparel imports, but the quotas do not apply across the board, and they mainly slow down the growing volume of imports. In the meanwhile, 647,000 men and women still work in textiles and apparel in the United States; and their jobs are at risk if imports keep rising.
"Already this year, 31 textile and apparel plants in the United States have closed because they could not compete, including 12 in South Carolina. Stalwarts of the industry, like Springs and Celanese, are shutting plants and cutting back. Whole companies, like Fieldcrest-Cannon, have disappeared. "If the Bush Administration wants to level the playing field and protect American jobs, it has stronger remedies at its disposal. One is to stop China from undervaluing its currency, and making its exports cheaper and its
imports more costly. I have introduced a bill with Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) that directs the Secretary of the Treasury to raise tariffs on Chinese imports to 27.5 percent if, after a 180-day warning period, China does not float its currency and allow the market to set its value. "In addition, Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) and I, along with 26 of our House
colleagues, sent a letter to President Bush on December 8 regarding the trade talks going on in Hong Kong this week. We urged the Bush Administration to take textiles and apparel out of the talks concerning the manufactured goods, so that any across-the-board tariff cuts that are agreed to will not affect the tariffs that are the last line of defense for
textiles and apparel. "This mammoth trade deficit means the loss of American jobs by the
thousands, and it hits home because South Carolina has lost the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs in the nation, followed by North Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia."
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