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Whether a deal is ultimately reached with China or not, the drop of quotas has fundamentally changed the sourcing landscape.
"No matter what they do, we're going to continue to see a very rapid expansion of other countries that aren't restrained, like India and Bangladesh," said Tom Haugen, president of Li & Fung USA. "We're optimistic that a deal will be reached. We are not optimistic that it will be a terrific deal. Any deal is a good thing in our opinion. We think the U.S. will probably try to stick real close to the 7.5 percent growth rate."
The desire on the part of importers to get on with business — placing emphasis on certainty rather than high growth rates — has the domestic textile community claiming to be in the driver's seat.
"The Chinese, in my opinion, need an agreement more than we do," said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, which has pushed for safeguards. "The Chinese, we assume, are under heavy pressure from the U.S. importing and retailing community to figure out what is the dynamic, not only for this year, but next year. There's an enormous amount of pressure on them."