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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
EU to relax Chinese sweater quota
Chinese clothing factory
European countries are trying to curb Chinese clothing imports
European import quotas on Chinese sweaters are to be temporarily relaxed to help shops fill shelves this winter.

Brussels has agreed to raise the import limit during the rest of the year despite initial opposition to the concession from some member states.

France and Italy were among nations calling for tough application of quotas on Chinese textiles but faced concerns from retailers about supply shortages.

About 20 million jumpers are awaiting clearance to be sold in the EU.

Temporary measure

These were shipped before a temporary ban on imports was imposed last month and have since been stranded in transit.

The EU has been odds with China over its surging textile exports.

The two sides reached agreement in June over tighter import controls until 2008.

However, Brussels restricted quotas last month after China exceeded its limit of 69 million export items up until the end of the year.

We are taking measures to solve immediate problems
Claude Veron-Reville, European Commission spokesman

It is now proposing to relax limits to assist retailers who had already committed to buying stock.

"We are taking measures to solve immediate problems," Claude Veron-Reville, a European Commission spokeswoman, said.

Under the proposal, the additional exports allowed in 2005 would be deducted from the permitted quota in 2006.

Beijing has yet to respond to the proposed solution.

Domestic opposition

Several EU members with large domestic textile industries expressed opposition to the proposal when it was first raised earlier this week.

They now appear to have been won round after listening to the concerns of leading retailers.

"It is good that member states have now agreed to this but if the Chinese don't agree it will be of little use," Mr Veron-Reville added.

Despite the proposed concession, experts said the move did not herald a more relaxed approach by Europe to Chinese clothing imports.

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