EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson urged EU member states on Tuesday to release Chinese textiles stockpiled at European ports.
"The consequences of not doing so will be severe economic pain for many smaller retailers and medium-sized businesses," Mandelson told the European Parliament's trade committee.
"I am not confident the Shanghai Textile Agreement will be sustainable unless we release the goods currently held at the border," he said, referring to the temporary quota system he helped negotiate with the Chinese government in June to last until 2008 to deal with the results of removing the previous one on January 1.
The quotas were quickly filled by goods still in transit when they came into effect.
"It could mean some shortages during the autumn, but even more likely, higher consumer prices for many of our citizens who cannot afford to pay more for clothes," said Mandelson.
Trying to ease the worries of European importers and retailers, Mandelson made a formal proposal on Monday to allow the import of Chinese textiles held up at ports.
"I appeal to member states to take the long-term view. The price of rejecting my proposal is harm to the consumer. The gain is keeping the agreement alive and the overall restrictions in place over the next three years," he added.
It is reported that more than 80 million items of Chinese garments, including T-shirts, sweaters, trousers and brassieres, have been blocked from entering the EU market after arriving at ports.
(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2005)