Facing surging imports of textiles and apparel from China in the first quarter -- up overall 62.5% and in some categories more than 1500% -- the U.S. Commerce Dept. said on Apr. 4 it is launching investigations that could lead to new tariffs on cotton knit shirts and blouses, trousers, and underwear. The move comes after quotas on mainland textiles and apparel were lifted on Jan. 1 when the Multi-Fiber Agreement ended. On Apr. 6 the European Union also set guidelines for considering restrictions on Chinese textile imports. The 2001 agreement that brought China into the World Trade Organization says WTO members are allowed "safeguard" measures, including tariffs, if growth in Chinese textile and apparel imports disrupts local markets. Beijing criticized the U.S. and EU announcements.

Edited by Rose Brady

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