EU urges its textile sector to ‘adapt’

Agence France Presse

Brussels, June 11:

The European Union urged parts of its textile industry on Saturday to adapt to growing competition after the bloc won breathing space in a deal with China to limit imports of Chinese

textiles. The deal, reached in Shanghai after marathon negotiations between EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson and Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, will see China limit the growth in exports of 10 categories of textile products. “There is a challenge for our industry to move up the value chain and to find its niche,” said Mandelson’s spokeswoman, Claude Veron-Reville. “An important part of the industry has already adapted, another part of the industry needs an additional breathing space, an additional respite, and they will have to make use of it to adjust,” she said. The accord, which came amid a trade row caused by Chinese exports flooding into the continent after global textile quotas ended in January, does not affect other such products from China and runs for three years. However Veron-Reville warned that all bets would be off after 2008, when a special textiles safeguard in China’s accession protocol with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) comes to a final end. “For the other products and for the year 2008, there will be no such limit, but there will be a mechanism for consultation between EU and China to address any concern that may arise,” she said. “Past the deadline of the end of 2008, it is all over.”