EU, China to settle textile row

Beijing, August 25:

A European Union (EU) trade delegation was in China today to fix an agreement on textile quotas that has left tons of garments stranded at ports, an official said. An agreement reached in June imposed quotas on cheap Chinese imports into Europe to protect European textile producers.

But it has resulted in a pile-up of Chinese-made sweaters, pants, bras and other garments at European ports. EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson yesterday acknowledged there had been a ‘serious glitch’ in the agreement’s implementation. The EU team was expected to seek changes to the accord that could bring forward 2006 or 2007 quotas to ease the hold-up of imports. The team was set to meet with officials at China’s ministry of commerce today afternoon, said Michael Jennings, a spokesman for the Delegation of The European Commission in China. The group represents EU interests.

Jennings said no further details about the team or their schedule were immediately available.

The official China Daily newspaper reported in an editorial today that the flawed agreement should serve as a lesson to the European Union that protectionist steps, which seem politically correct in the short term, would be damaging to consumers and companies in the long run. “The EU experience is also useful for the United States, where protectionism is even more rampant, particularly in the textiles sector,” the paper reported.