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Sino-US Textile Talks Fruitless

The sixth-round Sino-US textile talks ended Thursday, and the two sides failed to reach an agreement, said Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

The closed-door consultation lasted one and a half day and ended half a day ahead of schedule.

The MOFCOM expressed regret over the result.

Chief US negotiator David Spooner issued a brief written statement, saying that "We have not come to an agreement that meets the needs of our domestic manufacturers and retailers", but giving no indication of whether the two sides made any progress or the reason they failed to reach agreement.

David Spooner, special negotiator for textiles at the US Trade Representative's Office, continued to be head of the US side, while the Chinese side was still led by Lu Jianhua, director of foreign trade department in the Ministry of Commerce.

"What is lacking at present is a powerful force from outside to break the stalemate," said Zhao Yumin, a research fellow with the Institute of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of the MOFCOM.

Trade disputes between textile sectors of the two sides are not complex in terms of economic benefits, she said, noting that the issue would be easily settled, like that of the Sino-European one,  on the principle of mutual benefit.

Since global quotas were scrapped on January 1, the United States and the European Union have set limits on textile products imported from China, saying that the surge of textile products imported from China disturbed their markets.

China and the European Union signed a memorandum on Chinese textile products to Europe in June and reached an agreement in September.

However, China and the United States failed to reach any agreement after five rounds of negotiations on this issue. Meanwhile, the US side has imposed limits on the quotas of nine categories of Chinese textile products so far.

"The problem is that the textile issue between China and the United States is mixed with many other factors," said Zhao.

According to her, the theory of a "China threat" is quite popular in the United States. China enjoys a huge trade surplus with the United States, which makes the expanding import of Chinese textile products easily trigger precautions.

Moreover, the US government always treats the textile issue as a poise for bargaining, making the negotiation more difficult, she said.

Sino-US negotiations focus on the coverage, time scale, growth rate and basement of the limit. China hopes the limit would end by 2007 while the US side insists on covering 2008. But the US side once took a compromise on the growth rate.

According to Zhao, the textile trade dispute between the two sides would remain as it is in 2005, for the United States has set limits to textile products with rapid import growth rate and the year is coming to the end.

Insiders with access to the negotiation agreed that there is little hope for the two sides to reach an agreement in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency October 14, 2005)

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