To cover the cost of buying just one Airbus A380 China would need to sell 800 million shirts -- those were the figures quoted by Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai on Tuesday as he tried to put Europe's concerns over textile exports into perspective.
Bo made the remarks at a Sino-French seminar in Paris amid fears in the European Union that its textile industry is being harmed by the surge in Chinese products that followed the ending of global textile import quotas on January 1.
Bo said: "Because of the low profit margins of Chinese textile products, China needs to export 800 million shirts in order to buy one Airbus A380," referring to the latest aircraft being developed by European aircraft consortium Airbus. China Southern Airlines ordered five A380s in an April deal.
China exported textile products worth US$400 million to France in the first quarter of the year, a small fraction of China's overall textile exports, Bo said, adding that he hoped current tensions would not affect the overall good trade situation between the two countries, the China News Service reported.
According to Bo, China and France are facing more trade opportunities than confrontations and any problems can be solved calmly.
He encouraged French companies to invest in China, saying the two countries have broad possibilities for cooperation across the business spectrum.
Meeting with French counterpart Francois Loos, also on Tuesday, Bo assured France that China had already taken effective measures, such as a limitation on investment in the textile sector, to stem the surge in textile exports.
China is a responsible player in world trade and wants to "soften any shock wave that might provoke massive exports of Chinese apparel," he said.
Loos said he agreed China was a responsible country and that it "could undertake important steps in order not to disrupt the market."
Bo said economic cooperation between China and France had not yet realized its full potential. In 2004, Chinese trade with France was far below that with the United States, Japan, Germany and South Korea.
French Finance Minister Thierry Breton also met with Bo on Tuesday.
The EU executive commission last Thursday decided to open an inquiry into Chinese exports to Europe covering nine categories of textile products. Four EU textile producers, France, Italy, Greece and Spain, have asked the commission to apply emergency procedures that would speed up implementation of restrictions.
(China Daily May 5, 2005)