Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

EU rejects calls for curbs on PRC textiles

European Union trade chief says current data inadequate to impose defensive measures

EU rejects calls for curbs on PRC textiles

The European Union's trade chief rebuffed calls on Tuesday for curbs to be slapped on imports of cheap Chinese clothing and textiles, arguing that it was too soon for a step that should only be a last resort.
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the day may well come when so-called "safeguards" have to be imposed on Chinese imports, which preliminary figures show have surged since a decades-old global quotas regime ended on January 1.
"But I don't think two months of inadequate data are a good enough basis to take the sort of action you would like to see," he told a member of the European Parliament's trade committee.
"The decision on whether or not to ... impose defensive measures would be a complex one that requires careful analysis of a series of factors, and not one that should be resorted to lightly nor automatically."
European clothing and textiles industry group EURATEX last week called for steps to stem the "voracious appetite of Chinese exporters," which was hurting its members. That echoed concerns raised in Brussels by both the Italian and French governments.
The United States said last week it would press Beijing to cool its exports after data showed U.S. imports of textiles and clothing from the country jumped some 40 percent in January from December, and were nearly 30 percent higher than a year earlier.
The increase followed the end of an international quota system that has long protected American and European textile producers by limiting imports.
釚anger zones'
China made 17 percent of the world's textiles and clothing in 2003, but the World Trade organization sees that market share rising above 50 percent within the coming three years.
Beijing agreed when it joined the WTO in 2001 to let member countries impose safeguard restrictions limiting growth on its textile and apparel shipments at 7.5 percent from the prior year until 2008. But importing countries have to show "market disruption" to impose such curbs.
The European Commission, which conducts trade policy on behalf of the 25-nation EU, says it will publish guidelines which set out clear "danger zones."
"If Chinese import levels in any sector were to reach such danger zones, we would investigate," Mandelson said.
He said the EU executive would at that stage look for possible disruption of trade flows, harm to EU industry and damage to industry in vulnerable developing nations which had relied on quotas guaranteed them by rich country importers.
Mandelson said the EU was coordinating with Beijing to ensure a smooth transition from the old system, adding that Chinese ministers had assured him they were aware of the need to put in place licensing and other measures to brake export growth.
He said the market mechanism for trade in textiles and clothing was clearly not functioning normally, and suggested that China's competitive advantage stemmed - to some extent - from "offensive and unacceptable labor standards."
Mandelson refused to be drawn, when questioned by reporters later, on how many months of data would be required to judge whether safeguards should be imposed.
Instead, he noted that cheap imports could have benefits for European consumers, and said there were some EU countries - and even people in member states with a clothing industry tradition like Italy - who strongly opposed such a step.


Updated : 2021-10-18 03:00 GMT+08:00