EU, US must lay off on textile issue: China

Agence France Presse

Beijing, June 1:

The United States and European Union must adopt a more flexible attitude if progress is to be made in their dispute with China over textile exports, state media said on Wednesday ahead of a visit by US trade officials.

The leading China Daily, often used by the government to convey its opinion, said much was at stake and concessions must be made.

“As in most trade disputes, unilateral action is not constructive. Trade wars benefit no one,” the newspaper said in an editorial. “The United States and EU should lessen their demands to keep the ball rolling.”

The comments came ahead of a visit to Beijing Thursday by US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez for talks with his counterpart Bo Xilai. US Trade Representative Rob Portman arrives Saturday for discussions with Vice Premier Wu Yi. Negotiations will centre on the flood of cheap Chinese textiles exports swamping US markets since the end of the global quota system on January 1.

Washington has also been pressing China to change its currency regime. China edged closer to a trade war with the EU and United States this week after scrapping export tariffs on a range of textile products. They came into effect Wednesday and are in response to restrictive measures taken by Washington and Brussels.

“Parties involved in the textile trade dispute should also be aware that the outcome of the talks will have repercussions for the development of global free trade,” said the newspaper. “The abolishment of the quota system in textile trade was a significant achievement of the Uruguay Round of global trade talks. “Failed China-US, China-EU talks will only add to people’s suspicion over Western dedication to free trade.”

China has argued that attempts by the EU and Unite States to impose limits on textiles undercut the very principles of free trade they are promoting. It also says they have only themselves to blame for their current predicament, in which jobs are threatened by the influx of Chinese goods.

“Their underlying goal is to find an excuse for restrictive measures to answer calls from their domestic textile associations,” said the editorial.

“The reality is, the United States and EU should blame themselves for not adequately preparing their domestic textile enterprises in the years before global textile trade was liberalized at the beginning of this year.”