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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
No breakthrough in China-EU talks
Importers shows Chinese sweaters held up in French warehouse
Millions of items are held up in European customs warehouses
EU and Chinese officials have finished a third day of textile trade talks without a breakthrough in attempts to reach an agreement over import quotas.

Talks aimed at easing a backlog of millions of Chinese-made clothes across Europe will now resume on Sunday.

Negotiators are said to be discussing technical details which could allow the blocked items to be released.

The goods had breached strict quota limits designed to protect Europe from a flood of Chinese imports.

Some of Europe's biggest High Street names have warned that their shelves may start to empty if the goods are not released.

Meanwhile it was announced that Chinese and US officials will meet next week to seek a comprehensive deal to limit Chinese imports.

Long term effect

With around 50 million sweaters and 17 million pairs of trousers already detained, big name stores across the continent are increasingly anxious that these Chinese-made clothes are released in time to prepare for the Christmas rush.

Now T-shirts and bras are the latest items to join the list of products that have reached their EU quota limits.

The assumption that by curbing imports from China will make people buy from Europe, is totally naive
Grev Leigh, Bristol, UK

EU negotiators may offer to increase this year's quotas by bringing forward next year's allowance.

But Chinese negotiators are keen to ensure this does not lead to more of their clothes being stranded 12 months down the line, the BBC's Shanghai correspondent, Quentin Sommerville, says.

Meeting ahead of the start of this round of talks, EU ministers agreed on the need for urgent action.

"We now need a pragmatic solution that deals with the immediate overshoot, and with good will on all sides, we can do this," said EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

Staff laid off

The EU quotas are beginning to hurt China's clothing manufacturers.

Most manufacturers initially switched their production from clothing that has met its quota limits, such as trousers and blouses, to garments that have not.

However, few of those categories now remain, and Chinese producers have begun laying off staff.

Chinese officials point out that it is not just their manufacturers that are suffering - European shoppers are also losing out, they say.

Major fashion stores take about a year to plan and produce their clothing ranges.

China is selling more clothing to Europe than ever before - about $8bn-worth (4.5bn; 6.5bn euros) in the first half of this year alone, almost the same amount as in all of 2004.

See the Chinese goods piling up at European ports

China textile bottleneck tightens
23 Aug 05 |  Business
Stores angry at EU clothing curbs
18 Aug 05 |  Business
US-China on verge of textile deal
18 Aug 05 |  Business
EU to relax Chinese sweater quota
04 Aug 05 |  Business

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