China mulls post-quota measures for textiles
China will consider adopting measures to protect its interests and those of its trading partners once global textile quotas are scrapped at the end of this month, a government official said on Friday.
The 1994 Uruguay trade round agreed that a quota system which has governed global textile trade for decades will expire on December 31. Most analysts expect China to dominate the post-quota world market.
"We will adopt a responsible attitude toward the textile issue," Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui told a news conference ahead of a December 7-9 visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to the Netherlands for a China-European Union summit.
"We will consider adopting some measures to protect the interests of the Chinese side while at the same time looking after the interests of our cooperating partners," Zhang said.
China made 17 percent of the world's textiles and clothes in 2003. The World Trade Organization sees that market share rocketing above 50 percent within three years, and in the United States alone, textile makers expect some $42 billion of clothing orders to go China's way by 2006.
The U.S. textile industry, which has lost jobs in recent years, fears even more losses once textile quotas are scrapped.
Zhang said China was "very understanding" of other countries' fears over the disappearance of the quotas.
"As an important member of the WTO, China has the right to enjoy, and the obligation to maintain, the results of the Uruguay negotiations," he said.
A solution to differences between China and EU members could be found through dialogue and cooperation, he added.
China's exports are rising fast. In the first nine months of this year, it exported $4.5 billion worth of apparel and accessories, up 19 percent on the same 2003 period. Exports of yarns and knitted fabrics jumped 26 percent to $2.44 billion.
The EU has said it will set up a special monitoring system for textile imports from China after the quotas are abolished.