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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 May 2005, 01:53 GMT 02:53 UK
US limits Chinese textile imports
Chinese woman arranges a clothing display
Cheaper Chinese clothes have been flooding Western markets
The US has announced that it is to re-impose quotas on three categories of Chinese textile imports, arguing that thousands of jobs are at risk.

The moves follows a massive surge in clothing imports into the US since worldwide quotas were abolished at the beginning of this year.

The clothing ranges which will now be limited are cotton trousers, cotton shirts and underwear.

Last month the US and the EU began investigating Chinese import levels.

They said the goods were damaging their own textile industries.

Under the rules of the World Trade Organisation, countries have the right to act if it is determined that serious market disruption has taken place.

The US Commerce Secretary, Carlos Guitierrez, said a government investigation had established that this was indeed the case.

The EU has already urged China to curb its textile exports. Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said on Thursday that China should clamp down or face legal action.

Manufacturers' complaints

The US decision was taken by the inter-agency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA).

It means that total shipments in the three categories will only be able to increase by 7.5% above shipments in the past 12 months.

"Today's action by CITA demonstrates this administration's commitment to levelling the playing field for US industry by enforcing our trade agreements," Mr Gutierrez said in a statement.

The action came partly in response to complaints from US textile manufacturers about the increase in imports since global quotas ended on 1 January.

The quotas could remain until the end of the year unless the US and China reach a "satisfactory" agreement, CITA said.

US retailers have opposed the quotas, on the grounds that they will raise prices for consumers.

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