European importers on Wednesday expressed cautious welcome to the new textile agreement between the European Union (EU) and China, which replaces import quotas with joint monitoring of trade flow in 2008.
"We welcome the fact that quotas have ended, but the double checking system will put administrative burden on our members, and on importers and retailers," Stuart Newman, a spokesman for the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) representing EU importers, told Xinhua.
The European Commission announced on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with China to end quota restrictions on Chinese textile imports with a joint surveillance system to monitor the trade flow next year.
The so-called "double checking system", which will operate for one year in 2008, is going to track the issuing of licenses for export in China and the importation of goods into the EU.
Following a so-called "textile war", the EU and China reached an agreement in June 2005 on resuming quotas on China's textile exports to the EU, which expires at the end of 2007.
Newman said the introduction of the monitoring system was at least a better choice than the retention of quotas as pressed for by EU textile producers and some member states.
Michael Jennings, a commission spokesman for trade, described the new system as basically data collection and double check.
"We will be sharing information with the Chinese side. It's a good opportunity for us to monitor together," he said in a telephone interview with Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Jennings warned the double checking system will not exclude the possibility of using special trade protection measures again if a surge of imports is monitored, which may replay the scene in the 2005 textile trade friction.
Newman said they will advise their members not to buy all the products from China, but look elsewhere to avoid a surge in imports.
"I don't think the monitoring system itself will affect the trade flow, but I think importers will be more cautious about importing from China than it was in 2005," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2007)