The collapse of negotiations between the United States and the government of China on a trade agreement covering textile products, in the aftermath of agreements between China and the European Union (EU) on textile products under the China textile safeguard provision, will provide an important framework for discussion at Prime Source to be held next March in Hong Kong.

Prime Source is specially created as a networking event for the international apparel industry, and will consist of the International Apparel Forum (28th-29th March 2006) and an accompanying apparel sourcing trade show (29th-1st March 2006).

‘The setting for this worldwide meeting of companies up and down the garment manufacturing supply chain provides an excellent opportunity for industry executives worldwide to meet and discuss the implications of these important developments involving the world’s largest producers of apparel products’, said Kevin M Burke, President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). ‘I urge all of our members to participate in this important event.’

Burke expressed disappointment that US-Sino trade discussions were suspended on 13th October 2005 in Beijing without agreement, which he said is necessary for the stability of the apparel industry. He pointed out that by the time the International Apparel Forum is held, the industry will have had several months of experience under the EU agreements with China.

Leading international trade leaders, including US Trade Representative Rob Portman, and Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, have been invited to address the conference.

‘We are hoping to learn how the US government intends to respond now that extended quotas have been placed on China’, said Burke. ‘What will happen when other countries take up the slack? Major sourcing companies need to be able to understand what lies ahead.’

The event has been endorsed by AAFA, the United States Association of Importers of Textile & Apparel (USA-ITA), and the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), which represents European importing interests. It is also supported by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Hong Kong Textile Council (HKTC).

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