WTO Membership Benefits

I thought that the world of textiles had entered “2005 and beyond: the Quota-Free Era,” so I was confused when I read this article:

Fees applied to quotas on garment and textile exports to the United States have been abolished by the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance in a recent decision.

Deputy Finance Minister Truong Chi Trung said the decision, dated July 25, was good news for about 800 US-bound garment and textile exporters in Vietnam.

The decision was made in the context that Vietnamese garment and textile exporters are facing fierce competition from their Chinese rivals, with the threat of decreasing exports.

Trung went on to say that the abolishment of quota fees will not cause a big impact on the country’s tax revenues as fees collected from garment and textile exports are estimated at a mere VND50-55 billion a year….

To boost exports to the US, Vietnam plans to negotiate with the US to increase quotas for Vietnamese garment and textile exporters and simplify procedures on granting export permits, Trung said. [Yahoo]

I was aware of the calls for the imposition of “emergency” quotas upon Chinese textile exports, but how is the US getting away with plain old protectionism?

Here’s the trick: Vietnam isn’t a member of the WTO. Neither are Russia, the Ukraine, nor Belarus. The US maintains textile quotas against each of them.