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After losing 177,000 jobs since 1997, the U.S. textile industry is entitled to feel a little touchy. Forbes.com reported that the Bush administration appears to be looking at textile trade benefits as part of its economic aid package for Turkey and domestic textile representatives are concerned. The United States has already agreed to provide Ankara $6 billion in grants and $10 billion in loan guarantees to shore up the Turkish economy, according to U.S. officials. The textile industry fears the Bush administration has also promised Turkey more access to the U.S. textile market as part of a deal to allow the United States to deploy its troops in the country.
Robert DuPree, vice president for government relations at the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, said in the Forbes.com article that it was hard to know for certain what the administration was considering since negotiations have been “behind closed doors.” DuPree added, “Once you start down that path it’s going to be awfully tough to turn down the next country. Our industry, frankly, can’t afford to be used as a bargaining chip. We’ve made that very clear to our friends in Congress and to the administration.” Last year, the Bush administration scaled back a proposed $1 billion package in textile trade benefits for Pakistan to $142 million after domestic companies protested.