The U.S. Domestic Manufacturing Committee of The Hosiery Association filed a safeguard petition with the Commerce Department, requesting that a safeguard limit be re-imposed on Chinese sock imports.

The current sock safeguard limit expires on Oct. 28, but subsidized Chinese sock imports from China continue to cause severe market disruption for U.S. sock mills, and threaten to cause even more, DMC members said.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the National Textile Coordinating Council, and the National Textile Association also signed the petition.

“Penetration of the U.S. market for subsidized Chinese sock imports has been greatly eased by the passage of Permanent Most-Favored Nation Trade Treatment for China in 2000, and U.S. approval of China’s accession to the WTO in 2002,” the DMC said in a press release.

“But the Chinese did agree as a condition to WTO membership to allow the United States to impose textile safeguard limits to deal with market disrupting surges in Chinese textile and apparel imports.”

Sock imports from China have soared from less than 1 million dozen pair in 2001 to 56 million dozen pair in 2004. The wholesale price of a dozen pair of Chinese sock imports, which enjoys government subsidies, has dropped precipitously from an average of $9.00 in 2001 to $3.81 in April, DMC members said.

U.S. domestic sock production has dropped from 207 million dozen pair in 2001 to 148 million dozen pair in 2004.

Domestic sock mills still maintain about 40 percent of the U.S. market share for socks, the highest share of any major apparel sector left in the U.S. apparel industry. However, this share has dropped steadily from 73 percent in 2000.