This can’t be good. The Bush administration has agreed to consider import limitations on cotton trousers and shorts from China, according to this New York Times article from Saturday (registration required).
American manufacturers and the labor union representing textile workers have been pressing for help in advance of the lifting of all trade quotas on textiles and apparel on Jan. 1, 2005, allowing for the free flow of goods around the globe.
Last month, the manufacturers’ coalition presented the petition to the administration, knowing that the deadline would fall just before voting in the tight presidential election.
Members of the World Trade Organization agreed to the Jan. 1 deadline a decade ago but as the date nears, manufacturers in the United States and other textile-producing countries have been scrambling to protect their industries from competition from China.
How calculated is this? Are potential swing votes from textile workers sufficient to outweigh potential swing votes in the opposite direction from textile importers and free-trade supporters, many of whom are already extremely skeptical of the Bush administration?