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Ministry: Big differences with US remain
(China Daily/Agencies)
Updated: 2005-10-15 06:52

China will not sign any agreement that will hurt China's interests and harm the healthy growth of the country's textile industry, the Ministry of Commerce said in a strongly-worded statement on Friday.

China is seeking an agreement that will create a stable environment for the bilateral textile trade with the United States, the ministry said. The statement, published on the ministry's website, said an agreement could not be reached because the two sides have differences on "key issues".

An official from the Ministry of Commerce, who declined to be named, told China Daily that another round of talks seems unlikely.

Negotiators from both sides failed to strike a deal during two days of talks on textile disputes, which ended on Thursday.

The strong language, rarely used in statements by the Ministry of Commerce, indicated that large gaps exist between the two sides and a deal is almost impossible in the near future.

Mei Xinyu, a trade expert from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Co-operation, said both sides particularly the United States need to readjust their expectations if they want to strike a deal.

Insiders said the key differences lie in the annual growth rate of China's textile exports until 2008.

The United States still hopes it can reach an agreement that would regulate rising clothing and textile imports from China, but U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman told reporters on Friday that he is disappointed that Beijing rejected a "very generous proposal" .

Portman said the remaining differences, "with one exception which I'm not going to tell you about because we're still negotiating it," are not significant.

"I would say we're very close," he said.

"We had a very generous proposal for the Chinese but it was not generous enough for them," Portman told reporters. "Frankly, I'm disappointed. I was ready and willing to fly the 22 hours to Beijing, and the 22 hours back, in order to finalize" a deal.

Chinese textile exports soared after the end of a worldwide quota system on January 1. In the first eight months, China's exports of textiles and clothing have already grown by 23.7 per cent year-on-year to US$69.3 billion.

During the period, exports to the European Union and United States both surpassed the total of last year, with volumes of US$12.3 billion and US$10.9 billion respectively.

Washington responded to complaints by US producers by imposing controls limiting the growth in imports of Chinese pants, blouses and other textile goods to 7.5 per cent a year.

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