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Turkey asked not to set import limits on textiles
By Dai Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-27 08:49

China has asked Turkey to immediately revoke its decision to impose quotas on 42 categories of Chinese textile imports, said Chong Quan, the spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Days before the implementation of a free global textile trade agreement, Turkey announced on Thursday (local time) it will impose the measures on some Chinese-made textiles because of threats of market disruptions.

"We are shocked and strongly oppose this wrongful decision," Chong said.

Among the 42 categories that would be affected, two dozens categories are still subject to quota management. Quotas in 10 categories were removed in 2002 and the rest have never been subject to quotas.

According to a World Trade Organization agreement inked a decade ago, all quotas on textile trade are to be lifted on January 1, 2005 by WTO members.

But some textile manufacturers who fear losing market share in the free trade have asked the WTO to delay removing quotas. After the trade body refused their requests, they turned to their own governments to protect their businesses.

Chong said the Turkish decision has hurt free trade principles and also affected China's enjoying its rights under the WTO.

Chong asked Turkey to treat the issue with respect to WTO rules.

"We can solve the issue through dialogue and co-operation rather than impeding bilateral economic and trade relations," Chong said.

China will uphold its right to submit the dispute to the WTO, he added.

With the decades-old quota system limiting textile exports ending next Saturday, some are worried Chinese textiles will sweep the world market. The WTO estimates that within three years China will produce more than half of the world's textiles, up from 17 per cent last year.

To address these concerns, China made concessions and announced a series of measures on textile exports on December 12, including collecting tariffs on some textile and apparel exports.

Though the Chinese action received positive comments from trade partners, the textile industry still faces big challenges, especially from the safeguard measures China promised in its WTO agreement, said Cao Xinyu, deputy director of the China Chamber of Commerce of Import and Export for Textiles.

The moves allows the United States or any other WTO member to limit textile exports on the grounds that local market can be disrupted. The measure can easily to be abused since it is simpler than anti-dumping actions because there's no need to prove the exporter was selling at prices below the cost of production, Cao said.

The Bush administration imposed safeguard measures on Chinese imports of knitted fabrics, dressing gowns and bras last November and socks this October.

It was also considering five requests by the US textile industry to have caps on shipments of Chinese-made trousers, shirts and underwear.

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