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Textile Producers Adapt to Quotas

Textile producers in Zhejiang Province are adjusting their development strategies after the United States announced new limits on Chinese clothing imports on Wednesday -- the second time in five days Washington imposed quotas after complaints that Chinese imports were hurting US companies.


"We are discussing the latest situation," said Han Licheng, secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Clothing Association. "Two textile magnates rushed to my office for a closed-door discussion after the US declared its decision."


The new batch of goods facing restrictions are men's and boy's cotton and manmade fiber shirts, manmade fiber trousers, manmade fiber knit shirts and blouses, and combed cotton yarn.


Shipments of Chinese textiles and apparel to the US surged after the end of global quotas on January 1, and on Friday the US said it was re-imposing quotas on three categories of clothing imports from China, including cotton trousers, cotton knit shirts and underwear. 


In Wenzhou, a booming business center, about one third of local enterprises are engaged in textile exports, of which one third target European countries and the US, said Ni Xueshan, director of the cotton textile branch of the Wenzhou Clothing Chamber.


Ni believed the quotas would mean that some producers will first export textiles to a third country to evade quotas, increasing their costs and making US investors, retailers and consumers pay more.


He said the quotas might bring great pressure to the domestic textile industry and that some small companies would face closure, triggering more unemployment.


Jiang Guoliang, a manager with the Wobao Children Apparel Company in Zhili, a township of Huzhou City, said that less foreign businesspeople have come to the town since April this year.


Jin Changyi, general manager of the Jinqiu (Golden Globe) Textile Company in the provincial capital Hangzhou, said, "It's of no use blaming quotas or praying. The situation has already changed and the only thing we can do is adjusting strategies to minimize the impact the quotas will have."


His company exported about 300,000 to 400,000 pieces of cotton and silk clothes each year, including 50,000 pieces to the US, most of which were children's clothes.


"From the beginning of the year, we have received fewer orders from Europe and the US," Jin said.


Some enterprises are planning to enlarge markets in the Middle East and South America and increase the share of silk products exports.


Xu Zhongping, sales manager of the Qiuyinong Company Limited in Hangzhou, said "China's enterprises should not only focus on quantity, but also work hard to improve quality."


(Xinhua News Agency May 20, 2005)

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