After seven rounds of talks, the US and China signed a three-year agreement on the textile trade on Tuesday, imposing increased quotas on Chinese textile products and clearing a major obstacle to bilateral trade.
"The solution of the textile dispute is in line with the common interests of companies in both China and US, which will benefit and boost the stable development of the bilateral trade relationship," the Ministry of Commerce said in an online statement after the signing.
A total of 21 types of clothing and textiles have been placed under import restrictions, including cotton trousers. Previously 11 categories had been affected.
The agreement provides for progressive annual increases in imports of major textile and apparel products from China -- by 10 to 15 percent in 2006, 12.5 to 16 percent in 2007, and 15 to 17 percent in 2008.
Zhao Yumin, an analyst from the ministry's trade and economic cooperation institute, said that the agreement was the result of compromises on both sides.
Zhao said that China made concessions mainly on the duration of the import limit, allowing the imposition of restrictions to the year 2008, instead of 2007, which was preferred by China.
"But on the issue of the increase rate and the base number of the increase, the US has made more compromises," according to Zhao.
As part of the agreement, the US committed to granting customs clearance to all Chinese textile products currently blocked at American ports and to refrain from limits on textile products not covered by the agreement.
Calling the agreement "hard-won," Sun Huaibin, spokesperson for China National Textile and Apparel Council, said Chinese firms will have a more predictable future for textile trade with the United States.
"Though the firms still have to suffer from the quotas, it's better than the previous restrictions imposed by the US unilaterally," said Sun.
Calling the deal "not satisfactory" but "acceptable," Yuan Jianzhong, manager of Shanghai Shanyuan Knitting Co. Ltd. in east China, said his company will focus on increasing the quality of its products in the future.
(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2005)