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EU warns of new China textile 'disaster'
Updated: 2005-09-12 08:47

European retailers are looking forward to the end of a logjam of Chinese clothing imports this week but warn that a new "disaster" could already be looming, threatening further EU-China strains, AFP reported.

The European Union hopes that by the middle of the week it can start releasing millions of bras, trousers and other cheap Chinese-made clothes blocked at European ports for weeks in a row over import quotas.

EU warns of new China textile 'disaster'
Chinese workers sew up garments at a factory in Panjin, Northeast China's Liaoning Province September 5, 2005. [newsphoto]

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson secured a deal in Beijing last week to end the huge blockage, which built up after an initial June quota accord with Beijing led to a rush of orders from European retailers.

But the Foreign Trade Association, a Brussels-based group representing European retailers, warns that import strategies for next year "have to be planned carefully to avoid a new disaster in 2006."

Mandelson "is claiming that there won't be a problem next year .. but we think there could definitely be a problem," FTA spokesman Stuart Newman told AFP. "It all depends on how quickly our importers can react to the new quotas."

The EU, along with the United States, has pressed China to limit its clothes exports since the end of a global textiles quota system in January, arguing that the cheap goods are a threat to domestic producers.

In June the EU, pressed by European manufacturers, struck a deal in Beijing to limit the imports into Europe. But retailers, anticipating a shortage, had already placed huge orders for the cheap goods.

As a result millions of Chinese items, including sweaters (pullovers), trousers, blouses, T-shirts, bras and tonnes of flax yarn, have been impounded for weeks on European docksides.

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