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Turkey Asked to Revoke Textile Import Limits

China has asked Turkey to immediately revoke its decision to impose quotas on 42 categories of Chinese textile imports, said Chong Quan, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, on Sunday.

Just days before the implementation of a free global textile trade agreement, Turkey announced on Thursday (local time) that it will impose the measures on some Chinese-made textiles because of threats of market disruption.

"We are shocked and strongly oppose this wrongful decision," Chong said.

Two dozen of the affected categories are still subject to quota management. Quotas in 10 categories were removed in 2002 and the rest have never been subject to quotas.

According to a World Trade Organization agreement inked a decade ago, WTO members are to lift all quotas on textile trade on January 1, 2005.

But some textile manufacturers who fear losing market share asked the WTO to delay removing quotas. When the trade body refused their requests, they turned to their own governments to protect their businesses.

Chong said the Turkish decision violates free trade principles and deprives China of exercising its rights under the WTO agreement. Turkey has been asked to handle the issue in accordance with WTO rules.

"We can resolve the issue through dialogue and cooperation rather than impeding bilateral economic and trade relations," Chong said.

China will uphold its right to submit the dispute to the WTO, he added.

With the decades-old quota system limiting textile exports ending next Saturday, some are worried that Chinese textiles will sweep the world market. The WTO estimates that within three years China will produce more than half of the world's textiles, up from 17 percent last year.

To address these concerns, China announced on December 12 a series of measures to restrain textile exports, including collecting tariffs on some textile and apparel exports.

Although China's response received positive comments from trade partners, its textile industry still faces challenges, especially from the safeguard measures to which China agreed when it entered the WTO, said Cao Xinyu, deputy director of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textiles (CCCT).

The move allows any WTO member to limit textile exports on the grounds that its local market will be disrupted. The measure can be easily abused since it is simpler to be implemented than anti-dumping actions: there is no need to prove the exporter is selling at prices below the cost of production.

The Bush Administration imposed safeguard measures on imports of Chinese knitted fabrics, dressing gowns and bras in November and on socks in October. It was also considering five requests by the US textile industry to have caps on shipments of Chinese-made trousers, shirts and underwear.

(China Daily December 27, 2004)

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