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EU official to fly to China to end textile stockpiles
Updated: 2005-08-23 11:02

A team of European Union (EU) trade officials will fly to China on Wednesday to try to resolve the crisis over blocked imports of Chinese textiles, European Commission spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy said in Brussels, Belgium Monday.

After the EU ordered restrictions on 10 categories of textile goods from China in June, shiploads of sweaters and trousers and women's shirts imported from China have been piled up at European ports and cannot go through the customs because their quotas have been exhausted.

The spokeswoman also told a press conference that EU executives would meet with representatives from all 25 EU member states on August 25 in Brussels to tackle this urgent issue.

It was reported that some 59 million sweaters and 17 million pairs of trousers ordered by retailers and importers and shipped to Europe cannot be sold onto the market, and are held in warehouses and customs points due to the import restrictions.

Among concerns that the import quotas are doing more harm than good, the EU is facing growing calls for their relaxation, even from France, one of the strongest supporters of the Chinese textile clampdown.

Retailers and importers, who rely on cheap shipments from China, are warning that unless the quotas are loosened, consumers could end up paying more for clothes hastily sourced from elsewhere and enjoying fewer choices.

Earlier this week, trade ministers from Germany and Sweden wrote to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, asking for a quick solution to the problem.

On Thursday, trade ministers from The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland jointly published an article in the British newspaper Financial Times, calling for an immediate end to the dispute, saying the "best solution" is to "renounce protective trade measures."

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