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China tries to prod US to lift quotas
Updated: 2005-05-28 00:48

BEIJING - China said Friday that its own tariffs imposed in an effort to restrain surging exports won't apply to goods already affected by foreign controls, an apparent attempt to prod Washington to lift textile import quotas.

China announced a sharp increase in export tariffs last week in an effort to avert a trade war with the United States and Europe, where imports of Chinese textiles have soared since a global quota system ended on Jan. 1.

"Enterprises that already are subject to textile limitations abroad will not be subject to the export tariffs," state television said on its noon national newscast, citing the Commerce Ministry.

The announcement appeared to be an effort to persuade Washington to let China use its own measures to rein in the export surge.

The United States imposed import quotas in mid-May on Chinese-made cotton trousers, underwear, man-made fiber shirts and other goods. They limit annual growth of Chinese textile imports to 7.5 percent — well below the 54 percent jump reported so far this year by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Beijing criticized that action as unfair and said the United States and Europe were partly to blame for the surge because they failed to keep promises to open their markets earlier.

The report Friday didn't say which products would be exempt from the tax, due to take effect on June 1. The government earlier said it would increase export duties on 74 types of goods by up to 400 percent.

The government of U.S. President George W. Bush has said little about the Chinese measures, only that it hoped to discuss them with Chinese trade officials.

Textiles are one of a series of disputes that have strained relations between China and its trading partners. The United States, EU and other governments also are pressing Beijing to raise the state-set value of its currency and to stamp out rampant product piracy.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, wouldn't say whether China's announcement would change the administration's strategy.

He said he expected this and other trade issues to come up when he is in Beijing next week to meet with China's Commerce Minister Bo Xilai.

"We'll be talking about a lot of matters of interest to both countries and one of them of course will be textiles," Gutierrez said. "This is an opportunity to understand how they are thinking about this important issue, and I will know a lot more after my visit."

China imposed a 1.3 percent export tax on textiles in December on the eve of the end of global quotas, but American officials said that was too low to make a difference.

The EU hasn't imposed controls but began investigating last month after reporting that imports of some Chinese textiles have risen by up to 534 percent this year.

The outcome could mean that the bloc re-imposes some quotas.

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