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Official: US Response to Textile Talks Active

The United States has shown an "active response" towards the negotiations currently taking place regarding the provisional quota allocation measures imposed on China's textile exports, revealed a Chinese commerce official yesterday.


"The two sides (China and the United States) are in the midst of discussing the technicalities of the measures. After reaching an agreement on management and cooperation issues, China will facilitate the measures to manage its textile exports, much in the same way that we do with the European Union (EU)," said Lu Jianhua, director of the foreign trade department of the Ministry of Commerce.


Since May, the US Government has imposed limits on imports of seven categories of clothing manufactured in China. Meanwhile it has carried out safeguard investigations on another six categories of garments.


In a statement on the Ministry's website, Lu said the US side has stated clearly that it will cautiously approach decisions on the restriction of Chinese textile exports.


"The US Government has postponed its decision on limiting the import of "made in China" polyester and woollen trousers. Regarding the remainder of the categories, the US Government said it will fully consider the proposals put forward by China," Lu said.


But in the meantime, China has also urged the United States to negotiate new limits instead of unilaterally implementing the WTO (World Trade Organization) safeguards.


"The Chinese Government is firmly opposed to the US Government's decision to limit imports of seven categories of Chinese textile goods and garments, and to the safeguard investigations into woollen clothes and five other products," said Lu.


"The US decision goes against both the principle and orientation of the WTO agreement on textiles and garments, as well as the spirit of free trade that the WTO advocates," he continued.


"The Chinese Government reserves the right to take further action within the framework of the WTO," Lu warned.


Lu said that the import limits set by the US Government have had a huge impact on the textile industry in China.


"Chinese textile manufacturers are rushing to meet their export orders before the United States' borders are closed to them. Now, many quotas, such as those on cotton shirts, cotton trousers, underwear and polyester shirts, have been used up," Lu pointed out.


Last month, China and the EU reached a deal to avert a possible trade war over textile products. The deal has been hailed as a "win-win" situation and is considered to be a good example of how to resolve such disputes.


The Ministry of Finance issued a circular late last week, saying that as of next month the country will abolish the export tariffs on 17 categories of textile goods and garments limited by the EU on 20th of this month.


So far there are 51 categories of textile products that still have export tariffs imposed on them.


Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce indicate that at the end of June this year, China's textile exports hit US$50.35 billion, up by 21 per cent year-on-year. Included in this figure is China's textile exports to the United States at US$8.34 billion, an increase of 76 per cent, while the country's exports to the European Union is US$8.65 billion, a rise of 57 per cent.


(China Daily July 26, 2005)


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