Hopes for negotiated solutions to textile disputes were expressed in Brussels and Beijing yesterday regarding meetings with EU and US officials this week, in tune with the opinions of delegates attending a textile trade fair in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province on Sunday.
European Commission spokesperson Francoise Le Bail told Xinhua News Agency that "the aim of the upcoming talks is to find a satisfactory solution acceptable to both sides," referring to this afternoon's meeting in Brussels between Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.
State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan told US Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, visiting Beijing, that China hopes to solve trade disputes through dialogue and consultation, and to avoid mixing trade issues with politics.
Last Friday, China announced that it would raise export tariffs on 74 textile product categories as from June, with some increases as high as 400 percent. Le Bail welcomed the move, saying the EU would wait to see whether it had the desired effect.
In line with WTO agreements, quotas on textiles were lifted on January 1 this year, but the US has re-imposed them and the EU has threatened to, saying that huge increases in Chinese textile imports had disrupted their domestic markets.
A delegation of 72 US and EU textile buyers and 14 representatives of US textile associations arrived in the eastern city of Hangzhou on Sunday to meet Chinese textile manufacturers.
Yu Xiaosong, former president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said at the event that "textile associations from China and the US should establish a relationship to move away from trade barriers and deal directly with conflicts of interest."
Fawn Evenson, vice president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association said US quotas were a last-ditch strategy to save jobs, but could end up hurting US companies more than anybody else since the products blocked were bought and resold by American manufacturers.
Jeff Coey, director of the US Cotton Council International for China and Southeast Asia, told Xinhua on Monday that it was unworkable for the US to sell cotton to China but block products made from it from being exported back to the US.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily May 24, 2005)