The United States and China announced an agreement today to limit imports of certain apparel products from China over the next three years. At SIA's request, the agreement explicitly excludes ski and snowboard pants from any import restrictions. It also places no limits on imports of ski jackets from China.
On November 1, 2005, the U.S. government unilaterally excluded ski/snowboard pants from the quota that has blocked Chinese imports of those categories since June. Ski/snowboard pants were the only products that were granted a 'carve-out' from the original 2005 quota since there is literally no domestic production of these particular products in the U.S. The agreement announced today maintains this status for the years 2006 through 2008.
Additionally, the U.S.-China agreement now places no restrictions on jackets from China for the same reason cited above. It is unlikely that new restrictions will be placed on ski jackets in 2006 through 2008 since the U.S.-China agreement calls on the U.S. to exercise “restraint” before imposing any restrictions on jackets and other products not already restricted by the agreement. As a result, it would be difficult to impose restrictions on these goods without violating the U.S. commitment of “restraint.” Because the legal authority to impose quotas on apparel goods from China expires after 2008, no import barriers for ski jackets or pants are foreseeable beyond that date.
“Today's announcement follows last week's decision to lift the import ban on ski/snowboard pants that had affected imports since June,” said David Ingemie, President of Snowsports Industries Association. He added, “We are very pleased that our request to keep the U.S. market open for ski/snowboard pants and jackets from China has been granted. This agreement will allow suppliers to make decisions with confidence that the U.S. market should remain open and that U.S. consumers will have access to the widest array of these products.”
The effort was six months long and included the involvement and support of SIA's law firm DLA Piper, SIA member companies, snow sport retailers and several Senators and Representatives. The process provided SIA the tools to work directly with the Department of Commerce. SIA provided Commerce with research and factual information that resulted in the decision that will help hundreds of small companies within the supplier, retail and independent representative business categories in protecting their jobs and businesses.