Senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party asked trade minister Takeo Hiranuma on Monday to extend by six months an investigation into whether tariffs should be imposed on towel imports from China and Vietnam.
Towel imports have slowed over the past year, which will make it difficult to justify the imposition of import curbs.
The LDP, however, fears that towel imports will increase if the domestic economy recovers.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry launched an investigation into the issue last April, seeking to assess whether it would be justified in invoking import curbs under the rules of the World Trade Organization, which allows member countries to invoke safeguard measures to protect domestic producers.
The deadline for a decision is April 15.
“We take the extension as a precondition for the safeguard measure,” Bunmei Ibuki, the chairman of the LDP’s special committee on textiles, told reporters after a meeting with Hiranuma.
The ministry launched its own investigation under heavy lobbying from the domestic towel producing industry.
If the ministry agrees to extend its investigation, it would be the second time since the initial deadline of Oct. 15 was set.
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