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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
EU 'won't revive Chinese quotas'
EU trade chief Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson wants to give European firms 'time to adjust'
The European Union's (EU) trade chief has said any measures to curb Chinese exports will be temporary.

Peter Mandelson said any measures would merely aim to offer European firms time to adapt to changes to trade brought in at the start of the year.

The comments came as the two sides held talks over how to curb surging Chinese textile imports.

Following discussions, the EU set a 31 May deadline for China to take steps to slow the boom in its clothing exports.

However, Mr Mandelson said that the threat of such measures did not mean a return to quotas.

'Breathing space'

I want containers arriving from China to be sent back to China filled with European goods and produce and exports
Peter Mandelson
He told the BBC's Newsnight programme that instead he would be looking at ways to restrict the "very dramatic growth" in China's textile exports.

"I want to make it absolutely clear that I'm not going to go back to quotas with textiles, it is not happening, it will not happen ... it will be for a limited duration," he said.

He added that instead the EU would focus on "managing the transition" in the industry, which would allow European manufacturers to adjust to the changes. Mr Mandelson said he would also be focusing on the long term aim of redressing the imbalance between European and Chinese exports.

"I want containers arriving from China to be sent back to China filled with European goods and produce and exports," he added.

Mr Mandelson met chief Chinese negotiator Gao Hucheng on Tuesday in an effort to resolve the situation.

However, while the talks were described as "constructive" they failed to produce a breakthrough in the row prompting the EU to set a deadline for it to begin a 15 day countdown to imposing quotas on textile imports.

Informal talks will continue between two sides until then.

Action threat

Last week, China agreed to impose export tariffs on 74 categories of goods, but warned that it would abandon those plans if the EU put quotas in place.

Should the informal talks fail, then the EU will start mandatory consultations under World Trade Organization rules on 1 June, giving it the right to impose punitive limits on imports 15 days later.

Both Europe and the US have voiced concerns that cheap Chinese imports will damage domestic producers and lead to massive job losses.

The US has been adding to the pressure on China by claiming that the yuan is being kept deliberately undervalued in an effort to boost exports.

The EU says it wants to work with Beijing in finding a solution.

The US has already imposed limits on Chinese imports, claiming that its textile industry has lost more than 16,000 jobs since the start of this year.

Tensions have bubbled over after the Multi-Fibre Agreement, which governed the global textile trade, was replaced by a new system at the start of this year.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the dispute over textiles has escalated



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