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EC reaches agreement w China on blocked textiles

Canberra, 6 September 2005

European Commission reaches agreement with China on blocked textiles

The European Union and China have come to a resolution on the issue of blocked Chinese textiles imports at the EU border.

“We have found a satisfactory and equitable solution” said EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, in Beijing yesterday.

Both the EU and China have signed an agreement to unblock the current textile imports stockpiled at the EU’s borders, an agreement that must still, however, be cleared with the 25 European Union Member States. Commissioner Mandelson said it was important that this accord not encounter the same difficulties in implementation as the previous agreement on textiles signed in Shanghai in June 2005.

“When Member States were pressing me to negotiate I said that there were difficulties to operate an agreement like this,” said Commissioner Mandelson. “We have to make sure that the agreement is managed smoothly and that we listen to all: importers, suppliers, retailers and textile producers."

"I hope it will be possible to quickly unblock the goods currently at the EU border," he said.

Commissioner Mandelson said that the disagreement had not been a ‘trade war’. "The textiles issue has been blown out of proportion this summer, [although] it has raised the importance of free trade, and China and Europe have not, are not, and will not be at war; we have common interests and we want this relationship in the long term," he said.

The Commissioner reminded those seeking protectionist measures that "the laws of comparative advantage persist even if China is a major economic power".

“This is not about the return to quotas of the past; the textile quotas of the old agreement are not coming back, We are moving to an era were there will be no quotas at all, but Europe needs two to two-and-a-half years to manage the transition,” he said.

The EU’s 133 Committee, which provides a forum for consultation with the Member States on trade issues, is set to discuss the agreement in an extraordinary meeting.

ENDS

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