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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
China textile bottleneck tightens
Chinese workers measuring cloth
Chinese exports are worrying both retailers and manufacturers
Brussels is seeking fresh talks with China over a textile quota row which has resulted in clothes piling up at European warehouses and ports.

EU officials are to fly to China on Wednesday to try and resolve the dispute which has driven a wedge between manufacturers and retailers.

About 75 million items such as shirts and bras are being held at EU ports after China exceeded import quotas.

Retailers which have ordered the goods have urged them to be let in.

Spilling over

However, European clothes manufacturers have called for strict enforcement of existing quota rules, believing that cheap Chinese imports pose a serious threat to their livelihood.

China has breached import quotas in six out of ten categories of clothing covered by an agreement reached in June.

Because of these restrictions, about 59 million sweaters and 17 million pairs of trousers which have been ordered by European retailers and shipped from China cannot be sold on the market.

Brussels has previously indicated that it might be willing to adjust the terms of the June agreement to break the current impasse.

National pressure

This could see some of next year's clothing quota being brought forward to this year or limits on certain items being eased.

European retailers have expressed fears that the dispute will leave them with empty shelves this winter.

However, Brussels has been under pressure from several member states to take a tough line with China.

Countries with large domestic textile industries, such as France and Italy, are worried that cheap imports will threaten jobs.

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