China rips EU on textile dispute

JUMPING THE GUN: A Chinese official complained that Europe based its decision to go to the WTO to get textile shipments curbed on only three months of trade data


Mon, May 30, 2005 - Page 12

China lashed out at the EU yesterday after the 25-nation bloc took its dispute with Chinese textile imports to the World Trade Organization, forcing an immediate curb in shipments of T-shirts and flax yarn.

"The Chinese side thinks that the European side launched an investigation and made a decision ... based only on three months of data," Commerce Ministry spokesman Chong Quan (崇泉) said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site. "It's an inaccurate assessment and an incorrect decision."

European and US textile makers say their livelihoods have been threatened by a surge in Chinese exports since a worldwide quota system ended on Jan. 1.

According to EU figures, Chinese imports of T-shirts rose by 187 percent in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year, while flax yarn imports rose by 56 percent.

The EU took the dispute to the WTO on Friday, giving China 15 days to react. It also means that the EU will restrict imports of flax yarn and T-shirts to no greater than 7.5 percent above the amount entering its market between March last year and February this year.

"It not only sent the wrong signal of trade protectionism to the European industry, it also harmed the rights that Chinese enterprises should enjoy in the globalization of textile trade," Chong said.

He stressed that China was a "responsible member of the WTO and has already adopted a series of positive measures on its own initiative" and said Beijing was willing to resolve the problem through dialogue.

Earlier this month, China announced a sharp increase in export tariffs in an effort to avert a trade war with the US and Europe.

The US imposed import quotas in mid-May on Chinese-made cotton pants, underwear, synthetic fiber shirts and other goods.

The quotas limit annual growth of Chinese textile imports to 7.5 percent -- well below the 54 percent jump reported so far this year by the US Commerce Department.