China and EU edge towards textiles quota deal

Preceding the EU-China summit, the two powers seem to have come very close to reaching an agreement in the textiles row that overshadowed mutual relationships during the summer of 2005.

After an exhausting night session, Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson declared the talks concluded on Monday morning, refusing to elaborate on whether a solution had been found. “You will be told later”, Reuters quotes Mr. Mandelson as telling journalists. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese Minister of Trade, Bo Xilai answered the same question as follows: “Nearly… We haven’t signed a final agreement.”

According to Reuters, anonymous Commission sources close to Mr Mandelson said an agreement had indeed been reached. The agreement would, according to the sources, effectively raise import limits, allowing almost 80 million blocked garments made in China to be imported into the EU. Nouvel Observateur quotes Commission sources as saying: “It is quite a balanced agreement, a compromise with which both sides are happy.” Süddeutsche Zeitung quotes sources as saying no agreement had been reached so far and negotiations were going on. 

An EU negotiating team has been in Beijing since 24 August 2005, trying to find a solution in the dispute over garments worth hundreds of millions of euro stockpiling at EU customs warehouses because they are in excess of trade quotas negotiated with China in June 2005. 

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