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Mon, Nov 07, 2005 - Page 12 News List

US, China reach tentative deal on textile limits

AP , WASHINGTON

The US and China have reached a tentative agreement to limit imports of Chinese clothing and textile products into the US, US industry officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been announced, said it could be signed as early as tomorrow when US Trade Representative Rob Portman and Chinese officials will be in Geneva.

They said on Saturday that the tentative deal was reached during the fifth round of discussions, which took place over the past week in Washington. Both sides agreed on the major issues, they said, and discussions were continuing on details.

The deal would be similar to an agreement China reached with the 25-nation EU earlier this year. However, in a victory for US manufacturers, the deal would last through 2008, one year longer than the EU agreement.

US textile and clothing companies and their labor unions have been pushing for a comprehensive deal to stem a flood of Chinese imports that began last January when global quotas, in place for more than three decades, were lifted.

US President George W. Bush's administration has been reimposing quotas, known as "safeguards," for individual categories of clothing and textiles. The industry wants a comprehensive deal covering all threatened categories of US production and lasting for three years. The safeguard quotas were only good for a year at a time.

The tentative agreement would allow for imports of most clothing and textile categories covered by the deal to increase by 8 percent to 10 percent next year, by around 13 percent in 2007 and by around 17 percent in 2008.

All of these percentages would be higher than the 7.5 percent growth allowed under the safeguard procedures.

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