A special panel of the Liberal Democratic Party urged the government Wednesday to extend the April 15 deadline for a decision on whether to impose tariffs on towel imports, LDP officials said.

The request was made to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry by the LDP’s special committee on textiles.

METI has been considering whether to restrict towel imports under the safeguard mechanism of the World Trade Organization.

Government officials indicated recently, however, that Tokyo may not be able to impose emergency curbs of this kind due to a slowdown in towel imports.

Trade data from December and January suggest that it will be it difficult for the government to cite a surge in imports as an excuse to invoke the safeguard mechanism.

But members of the LDP panel said that taking the safeguard measure may still be necessary if the economy recovers and imports grow.

“The situation remains the same, namely, the domestic towel industry is suffering from cheap imports from China,” one panelist claimed.

METI began its probe into the issue last April, assessing the effects of imports from China and Vietnam. Although an initial deadline for a decision was set for October, it was moved back six months.

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