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22, May 2005
The EC will take action to protect itself against a potential surge in imports from China resulting from liberalisation of global trade in textiles.

On 1 January, the world Trade Organisation Agreement on Textiles and Clothing expired, requiring all WTO members to lift remaining quotas on trade in this market.

European commissioner for trade Peter Mandelson said that with its “dramatic” potential to increase exports, China had become a key concern for EU member states and their producers. Also at risk were developing countries with historic dependence on trade with the EU market, such as Bangladesh, and Euro Mediterranean partners such as Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, whose textile industries trade up to 95% of their products with Europe.

The EC last week set up “ zones” allowing early detection of a rapid rise in imports or a sudden in unit value of textile products. Mandelson emphasised import restrictions would be imposed if “credible data” showed EU member government’s concerns were legitimate. The US has already taken its first steps towards limiting the import of certain garment types from China, following evidence of huge increases since quotas were lifted.

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