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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
Will a textile deal end bra wars?
The EU and China have signed a deal to unblock millions of garments sitting in warehouses and ports around Europe.

Under the deal, half the goods will be released unconditionally. The rest will count against China's 2006 quota.

The deal has yet to be approved by EU member states, but officials say this is only a formality.

Many European clothing manufacturers support the quota system, as they're worried about losing jobs to cheap Chinese competition.

What do you think of the textile deal? Have you been affected by the quotas? How should the West react to China's fast-growing economy?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

You can't bring people out of poverty if you don't let them sell what they produce
Brian, Kansas City, USA
It's interesting to see the difference between what the EU bureaucrats say about ending poverty in the Third World and what they actually do. You can't bring people out of poverty if you don't let them sell what they produce. The EU pays lip service to the problem by throwing a few euros into aid, but it is clear it has no intention of letting Third World countries gain a foothold in the European market.
Brian, Kansas City, USA

Just remember that goods that are less expensive are usually produced by much cheaper labour and services. If the West wishes to compete with Asia then the wages and services will need to go down in the West and I can imagine that none of you would want that. At least for yourselves.
Nancy, Canada

Rich countries always talk about free trade and no barriers, but obviously they mean that those must be favourable to them and apply only to others. What about the agricultural subsidies?
M R Shie, Taipei, Taiwan

To Anna from London, China is not a poor country, the people may earn low wages but they are far from poor and it is not just the West who are suffering, see the correspondence from Mexico. As for the West flooding poor countries with cheap food. Well I think you need to do your homework 70% of food delivered to Africa is aid.
John, Birmingham, UK

This quota is just another example of the West's unfairness in the global market. The West had no hesitation in flooding the poor countries with their cheap agricultural products, sending more people in the poor countries into deeper poverty. Yet, when poor countries like China finally have the opprotunity to sell some goods to Europe and the US, the West set up trade barriers, so poor people in the poor countries still have no chance of improving themselves. Goods from countries like China are cheaper simply because these countries are poor, so the cost of living is much lower. Didn't the poor countries suffer job loss when the West flooded their market with cheap agricultural goods? If the poor had to bear the pain, why can't the rich do the same?
Anna, London, UK

Until other countries can compete on price, the Chinese will continue to dominate
Tim, County Antrim
You walk into a shop and are faced with a choice of a British made shirt at 15 or a Chinese made shirt of similar quality for 5. Which one is 99% of the buying public going to go for? And this is the reason why Chinese goods are dominating the market. We want them, and until other countries can compete on price, the Chinese will continue to dominate. The clothing industry is heading the same way as car making, shipbuilding and other manufacturing industries. What do people suggest we do - force the Chinese to increase wages so that they become as uncompetitive as the rest of us? The laws of supply and demand are operating perfectly. We want it and they can supply it, what's wrong with that. Let everyone have free trade - compete or go under.
Tim, County Antrim

China is ending the textile industry over the world. I?m a student of textile engineering and this moment I can't find a job, because thousands of factorys have to close. We are invaded by Chinese textile products cheaper than Mexican products.
Jorge Ruiz Sohez, Mexico City, Mexico

I think it's ridiculous that the EU, an organisation initially set up for free trade (how things have changed!) would agree one set of rules 10 years ago, and then as soon as they come into force, change them. And who was it who changed them? A bunch of unelected cronies sat in Brussels. I'm all in favour of free trade - so long as it actually is free, and not as the EU dictates.
Ollie, Leeds, UK

I think the European clothing manufacturers should start thinking of their cost base and introduce high-end products and transfer the low-end ones to cheaper countries nearby. The quotas will quickly be filled again as the world is hungry for cheap goods that the Chinese can fulfil. They don't care where they come from, as long its cheap for people to buy.
Firdaus, Singapore

If I want cheap goods I'll buy from a cheap shop
Glen, Welling, UK
I want choice: If I want cheap goods I'll buy from a cheap shop (probably selling goods made in China), if I want more expensive goods I'll buy from a more expensive shop. What I don't need is the EU telling me what I can and can't buy and who I will and won't buy from. The EU is getting closer to the old style Soviet-social model every day.
Glen, Welling, UK

As cheap clothing runs out and the shops become empty, the less well off members of my family who have children to clothe will be affected due to the short sighted socialist policies of Peter Mandelson.
Tom, London

A friend of mine has just closed his garments factory after 30 years because they just can't compete anymore with Chinese workers earning less in a week than his workers did in an hour. How can he be expected to survive? Don't blame the Chinese, we should look at our own back yard - high wage, low productivity is to blame.
John, Birmingham, UK

It is about time Europe (and America) put their money where their mouth is, and have genuine free trade, not just when it suits them.
Peter, Wales

We're chasing falling profit margins round the globe like the setting sun
Richie, UK
It's the death throws of capitalism really isn't it? We're chasing falling profit margins round the globe like the setting sun. The problem is when you have countries with low incomes producing goods for countries with higher incomes, then sooner or later the people producing these goods want access to them themselves and start demanding higher wages resulting in prices going up and profit margins falling. The result of this is that the whole capitalist circus has to pack up and move on to another country with low incomes.
Richie, UK

I retail ladies wear. We order 6-8 months before we require the garments. The designers and their buyers are 6 months in front of us. So to reinstall the limits at short notices make it impossible to re supply. What about all the contracts signed and the goods produced in good faith by the Chinese? I am not sure how you could persuade the public to pay twice the price to buy a home produced item. In the long term the people who work with the best productivity will be the richest.
Doug, Oldham, UK

Quality of goods has suffered since they started to be made in China. A blouse from M&S costing say 30 pounds used to be expensive but you knew it would last for a few years. Now, the price has stayed the same but the quality has deteriorated. I now shop at retro stores and Oxfam shops for quality second hand goods, and buy quality still made in Britain for the long term.
Karen, UK

Have some consideration for the small developing economies
Souraindra, Mauritius
This is sheer hypocrisy on the part of the western countries. They did not care about job and revenue loses in small economies with China's unfair competitive advantage. Now that they are threatened, all kinds of barriers are being erected. Have some consideration for the small developing economies. What we need is fair trade and not free trade. We can't put China and small countries on the same level playing field.
Souraindra, Mauritius

The Chinese can make things so cheaply because everything is so cheap there. A worker may earn $2 a day and that may sound unbelievable to a Westerner. But with that salary, the workers already have enough to support their families back in the village. Please don't compare China with western standards. China is still a poor country and please don't be fooled by the skyscrapers in Shanghai!
Declan, Hong Kong

We have clothing productions in China and so do other foreign owned companies, which is just about 65% of the total China export market. We have found China is not the lowest cost centre in the world but it has comparatively better resources available to us. We will only select our production centre on cost and efficiency basis because our customers always need better prices.
John, Swanley

Hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty because of free trade
Ellen, New York, USA
In the States, we import lots of agricultural products from Central and South America, furniture, electronic products and clothes from China. As a result, Americans save money and use it somewhere else such as leisure travel and luxurious treatment like massage... Years ago, these things were out of reach for many working class people. Now, it is being enjoyed by a large population. Also, in the same time, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty because of free trade. I think it is a win-win situation. The US has done it for the past decade and Europe will have to face it sooner or later.
Ellen, New York, USA

Globalisation is not something you can pick and choose. Businesses will always go for goods and labour that are cheaper. If right now China is fulfilling that demand, then so be it. You can try all you want but at the end trade with China will be as strong as ever.
Chen yun Ling, Beijing, China

Why are there so many unemployed in Europe? Simple, we hardly manufacture anything anymore. When the going gets really tough, we may start again as we will not have the money to buy cheap imports. This will take time as the Western economies contract and the Asian economies expand - probably not in my lifetime unless we enforce trade embargoes and quotas but then it will just be tit for tat trade wars.
Andrew Davis

"Made in China" does not necessarily mean Chinese owned. Many of the garment factories in China are owned by western investors who chose to re-locate to China in order to exploit educated but cheap Chinese labour. Blocking Chinese made products is undermining west's bottom line.
Liban, Oromia, Ethiopia

Chinese workers are among the lowest paid and most appallingly treated in the world
Tim Hiscock, Crewe, UK
It is ironic that a supposedly communist country, China, is damaging the lives of so many workers, and not just in the rich world. Other low wage economies have lost out because of the lifting of quotas. In the Philippines, minimum wages have had to be removed to enable local industry to compete with Chinese manufacturers. In Bangladesh, bans on weekend and night shift working have had to be removed for the same reason. Chinese workers are among the lowest paid and most appallingly treated in the world. Ending the restrictions on access to the world's richest markets is costing some of the world's poorest workers their very modest, but hard-won, improvements in their living standards, as everyone is dragged down to china's level.
Tim Hiscock, Crewe, UK

Living in the United States, we are experiencing the same debate. While I sympathise with those whose manufacturing jobs are lost because of Chinese competition, it's time that already developed countries moved into other, more high-tech industries that can't be done in the developing world. Unfortunately, this would require building up our abysmal education system, which is something that it would seem our leaders are unwilling to do.
Noah, Connecticut, USA

Cheap imports lead to the loss of jobs within the EU but there is no need for quotas, just label CLEARLY the country of origin of a product and then the consumer can pick and choose items from countries they prefer. Personally I try to pick produce from the UK or the EU and would prefer not to buy from China.
Phil, UK

Seems like we in the West are becoming more and more selfish
Seline, France
We keep on talking about Chinese products flooding our markets and nobody seems to worry about the highly subsidized EU/US agricultural products flooding third world markets. We cannot have all things our way. Accept the realities of capitalism and move on. Seems like we in the West are becoming more and more selfish.
Seline, France

Just when did the people of Britain give Brussels the right to decide this for us? Who elected Peter Mandelson to do this?
Graham, Southampton

I too am all in favour of Free Trade, but it has to be on a level playing field for all and the Chinese are clearly not on the same field as the rest of the world. Their exchange rate has been deliberately manipulated and since the State provides everything, Chinese workers earn virtually nothing, which reduces the cost of Chinese goods, but is nothing more than a huge government subsidy. At the end of the day, the only people benefiting from this are the multinational companies, who by transferring manufacturing to China are making enormous profits.
Chris, Brazil

The problem is far more serious than textiles. I was shopping for furniture recently. The owner of the store told that the Chinese workers who make furniture are paid $2.00 a day. The same job in the United States would pay $30.00 per hour. It is time for a fair salary for the Chinese workers. The market will balance out if there are rights for all workers.
Bryan, Rhode Island

One really has to admire the double standards. Preach trade and practice Protectionism. Defeat competition by making the cheap goods more expensive rather than trying to make so called home-grown industries more competitive. Myopic and downright stupid? Absolutely. Any chance of it changing? None whatsoever.

If the E.U is struggling to free up the Chinese made garments, please send them as charity donations to poor stricken and naked towns and villages in Africa.
John Nana Jacobs, Harrisburg, Pa. U.S.A.

This mess comes about because we let politicians meddle in things they do not understand
David Shelley, Ronse Belgium
This mess comes about because we let politicians meddle in things they do not understand, and fail to think through. Liberalising trade with China was nonsense, and was bound to lead to rising unemployment throughout Europe - but politicians never think ahead, do they? The next battle is shoes, where even worse decimation of European industry has occurred, but is smaller, and has less muscle in the corridors of power.
David Shelley, Ronse Belgium

To protect the interest of the few textile manufacturers in the EU against the immediate needs of both retail (a much larger sector of the economy) and the people's needs seems ludicrous. In the US we subsidise some Agra crops, perhaps the EU should consider some kind of subsidy before they throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Ken, Los Angeles

The textile quotas are obviously ineffective in dealing with the glut of Chinese imports. The EU should take immediate steps to allow shipments held at the ports to be delivered to the shelves of retailers. EU retailers have already paid their Chinese suppliers and yet are not able to replenish stock because of this trade row. Who or what is this quota protecting? The market reality dictates that the current limits be raised and the duration of the quota agreement to be shortened. The quotas should only be maintained for a period sufficient for the EU to build up its competitiveness and subsequently to allow market forces to work for the greater good.
Lionel, Singapore

Will the EU also be blocking food imports to the UK that do not meet UK farming standards ?
Ian Baldwin, Buntingford England

The EU should abolish their looney left-wing policy of import quotas now. Left-wing protectionism such as this and the trade subsidies we heard so much about during the G8 summit are forcing developing countries even deeper into poverty.
Oliver Adams, Godalming, UK

I do not understand why the USA or Britain put limits on Chinese goods. After all aren't open markets the standard of capitalism?
Thomas, Allegan, USA

It is in our interests for the Chinese to prosper
Woody, Sheffield
In the long term, it is in our interests for the Chinese (and the rest of the developing world) to prosper as ultimately, we should see some reciprocal benefit as they become more able to afford our goods and services. This kind of protectionism only slows the process down. The theory is that we will all produce more of what we excel at, and everybody wins with the economies of scale. I hear what some people are saying about human rights and exploitation, but that is a different argument altogether, and nothing will be achieved on that front by blocking their exports.
T Chew , London, UK

Western countries wave the flag of 'free trading' when they trying to penetrate to overseas markets, they change the flag to be protection when their markets being penetrated.
Woody, Sheffield

By exporting as many products as they can to the West, China try to improve the dire conditions under most of the population lives. On the other hand all those importers make a bundle by buying as cheap as they can, without of course, passing down the rebate to customers. The real shame is there! At this rate the Western world will impoverish and there won't be any customers for all those Chinese goods.
Daniel Cacheux, Paris, France

Release and let commerce proceed, after all that's what the West has been espousing - capitalism. EU ministerial indecision and lack of consistency is the main cause of this dilemma. Play fair. Don't change the rules after the players are on the field.
Vincent, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It seems the retailers in this country and Europe couldn't give a damn were they get their supplies from as long as the money flows into the tills, and as for the home-grown manufacturers they don't seem or care whether they can keep up with demand!
Paul Doherty, Leicestershire, UK

Having spent the last seven years as a store manager for an electronics chain here in Los Angeles, I can tell you that there were three products in my store not made in China. A set of speaker brackets made in the USA, a button cell battery made in Switzerland and the bank deposit bag made in the UK! When will people understand that until there is a common standard adopted for human rights, there will never ever be a level playing field for trade, working conditions or fair competition.
Christopher Burdett, Los Angeles

Quotas or not, the manufacturing jobs are not going to stay in the EU or the US. If it's not going to China, it will go somewhere else, but definitely not to the EU or the US. After all, it's the consumer's pocketbook that ultimately determine where the source of the manufacturing will be, not the labor unions.
Sewi Yu, North Andover, USA

Trade is a two-way street based on reciprocity, it is not a flood
Robert Alexandriysky, Sofia, Bulgaria
There is an issue which most of the people ignore. Those quotas were lifted provided goods were produced under the conditions of market economy in China. There is no such evidence yet. I have been living in communist country long enough to know the power of the state to support low price policy. There is no change in the communist world since then. Yes, a lot of EU and US producers knew that quotas will be lifted. But the Chinese government also knew that market economy should be demonstrated. Today, we want cheap goods. But there should be also responsibility for all people affected by the new WTO rules. Trade is a two-way street based on reciprocity, it is not a flood.
Robert Alexandriysky, Sofia, Bulgaria

Our country should honour our WTO Treaty without restrictions, and as we expect others so to do. Especially as we had already agreed to a ten year delay in the introduction of quota-free imports. The costs of living of low income families are more important than the foolish shareholders of textile manufactures in France, Italy and Spain.
Andrew Dundas, Ilkley, UK

Let's stop all this rubbish about the merits or otherwise of Chinese goods. It distracts from the central question, which is whether or not consumers ought to be able to choose products on the basis of their own opinion. Let the market decide. It is certainly better at it than Peter Mandelson.
Andy B, Coventry, UK

The point is Chinese manufacturers work for the orders coming from EU or US businessmen. No matter how you evaluate Chinese textiles, do you think a normal retailer of EU orders goods which can't be sold?
Liu Ziqiang, Beijing, China

Manufacturing in all areas is being taken over by China, not just textiles. This is the tip of the iceberg. We shouldn't be relying so heavily on China.
A Baker, Ely, UK

Domestic producers have no hope of competing against companies who pay less in a month than we pay in a week
John, Harrogate, UK
I would suggest that those people saying "do away with quotas" etc do not work in manufacturing and have jobs where they will get paid regardless, eg civil service. China is, and will become even more so the dominant manufacturer in the world and will wipe the floor with everyone else if some controls are not in place. Domestic producers have no hope of competing against companies who pay less in a month than we pay in a week.
John, Harrogate, UK

I am not convinced that our industry would be ruined if we were to bring down import barriers. New Zealand has one of the most unprotected economies in the world, but it has been powering ahead in recent years. Initially, some people went out of business, but the country's economy adapted and produced what was more profitable.
Graeme Phillips, UK (UK & NZ national)

I have nothing against China, my partner is Chinese. However, it concerns me that everything I pick up in the shops is made in China. What is happening to our home grown industries? I am trying to start a business but simply cannot compete with such low prices. The quotas are there for a reason.
Anya, London, UK

From what I understand, everything is virtually made in China. Chinese people must be worked to the bone to keep us Westerners forever consumerholic, and for very little in return. Isn't it about time that people learned to be happy with what they have instead of wondering which 'brand name' T-shirt they're going to be buying next?
Lynne Thomas, H

I spend time in France and they, like the UK, complain about the amount of textiles coming from China but when I go out shopping everyone is buying these cheap goods. In fact, many refuse to pay anything over 5 for a garment. This is hypocrisy. My daughter-in-law is from China and I know that it is the badly paid, overworked people actually sewing these garments who suffer from the greed of the Westerners. We all want something for nothing and don't care about how we get it. So, at least, let's be honest about that.
Rosy Walker, Sheffield

The Chinese garments should be released to the European retailers that have already paid for them
James Phennah, Solihull, United Kingdom
I think that the Chinese garments should be released to the European retailers that have already paid for them. I do not see why they should be penalised because the trade agreement is flawed. Clearly, the quotas were based on arbitrary and unrealistic figures and they should be renegotiated based on actual levels of demand. It is not a workable solution to simply agree that China can use some of next year's quotas because we will simply be in the same boat next year!
James Phennah, Solihull, United Kingdom

Europe should give up its textile industry, and this is the optimal solution. However, the Italian luxury clothes, for instance, and some other famous European textile brands do have a reason to survive. After all, globalization means "you should give up something that you are really not good at".
James, Holland

With China accepted into the WTO, quotas had to come down. Now the only way out for the USA and EU is to leave the WTO and impose a total ban on imports from non-European countries. Just imagine - no more Japanese cars in the shops, the Chinese owner of Rover will have to hand our beloved brand back, along with the return of many other brands across the industry which have fled to various low-cost countries. Those who can't afford EU manufactured clothes will simply have to walk around in rags, spotting our underdogs like 200 years ago. Now anyone on the dole can afford an Armani from China. Let's close the borders and feel proud to buy European/American.
John Sauseng, currently China

China was advised months ago about their EU quota but they continued to sell to the EU knowing full well they would exceed the quota. If they increase this quota it will be a let down and yet again show the EU is all talk and cannot back up their quotas. Lets open the doors to everyone if China is allowed to bust the EU quota's.
Wiz, UK

We really don't care as long as its cheap and good quality
Calvin, NY, USA
The issue should be who came up with those quotas? The manufacturer's who can not compete in a globalized market. Who suffers? The consumer's and retail outlets who have to supply the consumers. Good or bad for local economies? Another story. But as consumer's, we really don't care as long as its cheap and good quality.
Calvin, NY, USA

European manufacturers have had 10 years knowing this was coming to prepare for it. Now they have panicked to the EU and forced a reversal of the quota system, which has only been in place since the beginning of the year, leaving this unnecessary and unbelievable chaos. It is amazing what blind folly the human race is capable of to choose not to prepare for something they knew would happen! It's totally nuts!
Carol, Essex, UK

Personally I think, this is a contest between people's jobs and the greed of retailers and their profits. I resent having to buy stuff made in China, because in some cases there is no alternative. The quality in my opinion is not as good as European made goods and I actually like, dare I say it, buying stuff (a rarity these days I now) saying made in UK or Portugal etc, so I am all for the quotas and the retailers being taught a painful lesson.
Paul McNally, Rugby, Warwickshire

We do not need textile quotas. We need more competition, as competition fosters excellence. As far as China being a country closed to foreigners for business, it is opening, but perhaps not fast enough. We should put China further. Also, it would also help us if we were to learn how to deal with the Chinese economy, as the East is much different from the West.
Rahul Laxman Iyer, Marion, IL, USA

Quotas are a lazy way out. If we can't compete on price, then either compete on quality, provide a need for clothing that can't be satisfied by China or do what someone else suggested and start a "Buy British" campaign.
Tony, London

Is it not these kinds of policies that keep the poorer nations in the poverty trap? It may threaten our jobs, but ultimately as products become cheaper the overall cost of living should decrease too. Maybe only then we will all be on a level playing field and be able to compete in the primary and secondary industry areas that these policies seek to protect. Make poverty history with free and fair trade!
Mark, Colchester, UK

Britain and the rest of the world must protect itself from being flooded by cheap clothing (or any goods) from China or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. Jobs lost in the UK will affect everybody eventually, as the taxes paid by UK clothing manufacturers and employees are lost to foreign economies. China are not going to contribute to our health service, so pay a bit extra and buy from the UK!
Chris Reynolds, Montreal, Canada

Nobody can compete with the Chinese
Chris, Brazil
The best solution is to burn it! The sad fact is that nobody can compete with the Chinese. Even here in Brazil, another low wage economy, we are flooded with Chinese made junk. I fully support the quotas imposed, unless the world comes to it senses, trade is going to be taken over by this modern slave labour. I for one am perfectly happy to buy a $10 Brazilian made shirt, rather than a $2 Chinese one.
Chris, Brazil

As part owner of a bridal business this is seriously effecting delivery of our brides dresses, with some dresses arriving only days before weddings! As brides have paid substantial deposits for their bridal gowns many months ago the government should reconsider grouping such specialist goods in with Tesco Value multi-pack underwear! The quotas need lifting and clearing should be speeded up.
Jacqueline Henry, Crowthorne, England

We live in the US where most of the cloth worn made in China, this caused many problems, closing of factories, loss of work, that is just the tip of the iceberg. China is by no means poor, before you reach for that fancy T-shirt consider the consequences. I believe in a healthy exchange of goods in the world, but does China purchase the same amount of goods from us? Europe should be smarter, beware!!
Agnes Leuenroth, New York, USA

This textile quota is all about punishing China and the Chinese for their virtues; hard working, innovative and frugal. It is about punishing the average European consumer who is happy with the value for money items from China.
Kwok, Sydney, Australia

I think the quota should be adjusted to allow the products in, but on the other hand, some domestic economy should be protected. The interest and responsibilities of a nation-state to protect its consumers and producers evenly will not disappear in our lifetime. While I think a liberal free market is inevitable, I do understand the importance of making sure it happens gradually - hence the application of quotas, tariffs, etc.
Kevin, Atlanta, Georgia

I am in favour of cheaper goods - my only concern is that England is still viewed as Treasure Island by may business's and in my view cheap goods from China and cheaper textiles will not translate into cheap goods on the British high street - on the contrary - for the majority of high street shops it will be a golden opportunity to charge high prices and make large profits - as usual the English people will be victims of the rip-off culture we all live in.
Peter, Manchester

I am particularly outraged to hear about quotas. EU and US flood poor countries with subsidized agricultural products, reducing local farmers to irreversible poverty. At any time poor countries took advantage of international trade. EU and US impose "free trade" and arrange themselves to get "local market" free of any barrier to their "manufactured product" and get the maximum return of the trade. But now, wind turns and change is operating. Hope poor countries keep pace with China's dynamic growth.
Andrew A, France

We have been hit by foreign imports here in the textile industry. Over the years our prices have been undermined and people put out of work. So why should we give preference to cheap foreign goods at the expense of our home industries?
P C Worth, Batley UK

Most of the West no longer counts on domestic textile industry to fuel their economies. I say let all the cheep stuff in. The average Chinese working slave conditions are the one's who suffer.
Todd, Virginia, USA

The Chinese only export what is ordered by us
J Eggert, Hamburg, Germany
The decision against quotas was made years ago. Now we, the EU, the governments and the industries, are surprised? The Chinese only export what is ordered by us! Just imagine, some one orders from us and then we are hit by ban in the middle of delivery?
J Eggert, Hamburg, Germany

Only a few weeks ago we were being exhorted to send aid to poor countries. Now we are being refused the opportunity to buy goods from other poor countries. I would love everything I buy to be locally produced, but the world stretches beyond the horizon. Import restrictions amount to a restraint of trade.
Jo Kavanagh, Essex

Why is it that the EU and US feel free to flood other countries with cheap goods (such as subsidized agricultural products) in the name of "free trade" and yet impose quotas when they face competition themselves?
Robert Prior, Toronto, Canada

I thought one of the prime demands for offering financial assistance to the developing world was to "open up their markets to free trade". Luckily, the developed world doesn't need to listen to that advice. Another case of do as I say not as I do.
Ibrahim, London, England, UK

Let 'em in. They were ordered, after all, by British outlets. A halt should have been put on ordering well before the deadline, not permitted until the last minute. Government mistake - let the government admit it and carry the can, as it should.
Teresa K, Birmingham, UK

Ridiculous. Quotas are a remnant of 19th and 20th century protectionism. Scrap them.
Chris, London

We cannot place an embargo on every country in the world
Robert Lever, Oldham, England
The result of globalisation will inevitably lead to manufacturing moving to wherever it is cheapest to produce. On a world wide basis this is China and the Far East. Within Europe jobs are already moving to the new EU countries like Poland because their wages are far lower than ours. Are we going to try to restrict imports from these countries too? Of course not. We could try a campaign to buy British like the French do for their own products but whilst everyone buys at the lowest price we cannot place an embargo on every country in the world.
Robert Lever, Oldham, England

Personally, I think the EU should lift the textile quotas. I would suppose consumers in EU are smart enough to make a sound decision on how to spend their own money, when it comes to buying clothes. I would assume if the general EU consumers could afford to buy designer clothing from Louis Vuitton, then clothes from China will definitely not be a treat at all, even if it cost 1 EU dollar! The answer is simple, demand and supply! I think the EU should learn to respect the decision of the not so rich consumers.
Bruce Chang, Vancouver, Canada

If people think that quotas are going to make people buy more EU products... I want to see one European consumer turn their head away from a 5 euro shirt and choose another for 3 times the price, just because the first one said made in China. I think France and other European countries need to understand that socialism is a great theory but unfortunately, as our economy suffers greatly from it, it has its limits. I believe that the rigidity of our social system is in direct relation with the cost of living. Countries like England have understood how to counter competition.
Christian Meymarian, Paris, France

Perhaps had we been a bit more protectionism in the '70's we may still have a strong motorbike manufacturing sector in the UK. I dislike the concept of the EU but actions like this may change my view.
David, Hull

What the Chinese can do in the short to medium run is to look at alternate markets
Roney Kurian, Hyderabad, India
Given the fact that the quota issue is getting highly politicized currently, in my opinion what the Chinese can do in the short to medium run is to look at alternate markets. Especially the markets within Asia itself and maybe Latin America where a revival of consumer spending is under way.
Roney Kurian, Hyderabad, India

Typical bureaucratic blundering. Did no one realise that clothes are ordered months in advance, and suddenly imposing a quota will leave huge quantities stuck in the supply chain? And if you think the poor textile workers in countries like China are being exploited as cheap labour, try asking them whether they'd rather be working or on whatever passes for the dole where they live.
Ken Ricketts, Wokingham, UK

Between the protectionist laws being rolled out by Europe in this issue and the protectionist issues being pursued by the US over its oil companies, with regards to China. Is it not a bit rich, not to mention hypocritical for us to bring punitive economic measures against the developing world for the same actions on a far smaller scale?
Stephen Bennett, Edinburgh

I think quotas on imports are protectionist measures, and therefore incompatible with today's global economic realities. However someone needs to explain to the Chinese, in the context of the WTO, that they can't just flood markets. Once they rectify their behaviour, in my view, the quotas should be dismantled.
P Bolton, US

The Chinese manufacturers are not forcing anyone to buy their products; people do so of their own volition
Kpdodo, Mauritius
These quotas simply mean that the EU politicians basically do not believe that people in the EU are able to make a conscious decision about what they value. If the quality of the Chinese products is too low, or the moral implications of buying Chinese too large, a customer in the EU can choose to buy 'European'; the Chinese manufacturers are not forcing anyone to buy their products; people do so of their own volition. This is called customer choice. The only time such a policy could be considered would be if the Chinese products are sold below cost in order to drive out the competition 'unfairly'; and this doesn't seem to be a possibility being discussed. Please trust that the people who elected you have the capability of making the right choices.
Kpdodo, Mauritius

Clothing is labour intensive. Labour in China, South Asia and Africa is cheaper than America and Europe. Until these country's economies mature we will be buying labour intensive goods from them.
Rahul, London, UK

What about the jobs of all the retail workers in the UK whose companies are going to go bust because they bought (and paid for) clothes now trapped in warehouses? The companies have no more cash to order new supplies from somewhere else, even assuming they could find a factory ready to make garments for them. Surely it must be possible to sue Mandelson for this?
John R Smith, UK

We have many factories in the Manchuria area for clothes. Many clothes made here are good quality with good machines. No children involved in the work. Europe and USA make a fuss because they want cheaper and we have to force down prices on quality and worker. Some bring children in for work to make money. China is getting better. The West are making it worse.
Shun Yu Chang, Harbin

The quota system won't work and will just cause the problems we now see - the EU should however, try to get something more in return for scrapping them - China has probably the worlds most protectionist economy with foreign companies and investors having to accept ridiculous terms to operate in the Chinese market. Of course most are too afraid to miss out on the huge market potential to take a stand.
Jan, CPH, Denmark

As one who lives in a country whose garment industry has been all but eradicated due to cheap Chinese imports, I support the EU's efforts to ensure European manufacturers can survive, and European consumers do not become dependent on imports. When we visited Europe this summer, we checked labels to be sure we purchased European-made garments, in support of European workers.
Dave, Cleveland, USA

Protecting our inefficient textile industry is just hypocritical
Matthias Wapler, Waterloo, Canada
There is an easy solution: lift the quotas completely. If production of mass-market textiles is less productive in Europe than elsewhere, then naturally some manufacturers will disappear and some will learn to become more productive. Protecting our inefficient textile industry is just hypocritical as we try to promote "free trade" for other goods and it reduces the productivity of our society and hence reduces our welfare.
Matthias Wapler, Waterloo, Canada

The cheap Chinese imports do not result from "China's huge manpower and industrial capacity" but from the fact that they pay their workers so little. If the manufacturers were required to show they met European employment standards in order to sell to Europe we would not have this problem. Without that we are simply sponsoring the exploitation of Chinese workers.
Alex, London UK

Since 1842 the West has tried every way to force open the doors of the Middle Kingdom, the door is finally and completely open now but all of a sudden the West decided to close their own.
Humphrey Lei, Macau, China

Isn't this the price of the free market that is supposed to be the saviour of the free world? I can't see that we can do anything about it - unless we operate an EU based protectionist economy.
Mark Tidmarsh, Brighton, England

In the name of the free market, the US and the EU have pressured Third World countries to open their borders so that western products (especially heavily subsidised agricultural produce) can be sold, wrecking the fragile local economy. But when another country can undercut their prices, the same US and EU clamour for quotas! What happened to the great principles of liberal economy?
Philippe, London, UK

This is not our fault. I've worked in the import section of the Civil Service, and know something of what's going on. The quotas were imposed months ago, and starting from July, China was meant to control its own exports and keep them within quota using export licenses. If goods are now stuck in European ports, this means that they have issued too many export licenses, putting them over quota. It means they have broken the original agreement. We should not give into this - indeed the Chinese government should be penalised for the problems they've caused.
Anon, UK

The EU has the cheek to say that it wants to protect industries in certain European countries for fair trade even though China's average income per capita is far lower than that in Europe.
James Chan, Shanghai, China

I believe the problem can be alleviated if instead of textile quotas we have import tariffs. In this way, you get the continuous supply of goods making retailers happy, and with the taxes the Europeans collect this can be ploughed into trying to find better means of competing against the likes of China.
Jay Patel, Harrow, UK

We in Europe cannot compete with Asia when it comes to the clothing and textile industry
Ian Kisberg, London, England
Having been a clothing manufacturer all of my working life, I can say that by moving production from the UK in the mid-nineties to Eastern Europe and then on to China in 2000, I could continue to supply my customers with excellent quality items at affordable prices. The only place to do that, as far we were concerned then and now, is in China/Asia. Why are we worrying about my French and Italian counterparts who aren't living in the real world? Whatever happens with the quota situation, not one job will be saved through protectionism. We in Europe cannot compete with Asia when it comes to the clothing and textile industry. They have the infrastructure, the technology, an unlimited labour supply that's willing to work and factory prices that are unbeatable. So whatever deal is done today, long term, it ain't gonna change a thing.
Ian Kisberg, London, England

Having been in touch with the fashion industry for some time, I can say that Chinese garments and fabrics are OK for everyday purposes and casual wear. However, that is not the case if you look for the outstanding quality and peculiar designs which can be found in bespoke clothing. Their quality, design and innovation can't match those in Europe and Australia/New Zealand.
Cesare Tallarico, Rome, Italy

As I run a dyeing & finishing company and we are part of a textile group in the UK, we can't help but smile. The dash to China for all manufactured goods has caused the UK to shrink its manufactured base. We lost our two major customers last year but we have to accept that the cost base is so low in China that on volume products it is not possible to compete.
Stuart, Nottingham

I have a textile business and I prefer to buy my cloth, thread, etc. in Europe. This is getting increasingly hard as others produce more and more elsewhere and my suppliers close down one by one. I also have to sell the end product and it seems the more money that is sent to China or elsewhere to buy textiles, the less will end up in the pockets of my customers. I could delocalise, and make more money but I think that would be counterproductive in the long term.
Robert, Brittany, France

The assumption that by curbing imports from China will make people buy from Europe, is totally naive
Grev Leigh, Bristol, UK
We use Far East factories for production of textiles. The owners of factories in China will not be affected much because most have factories in other parts of the Far East, so they will transfer production. But the staff in the Chinese factories will undoubtedly suffer. With the re-imposition of quotas, no textile business can do any long term planning with Chinese factories. This will probably mean that in a year or so, products out of China will fall well below quota, because of lack of confidence. We want to work with China because their knowledge of technical fabrics is excellent, their quality is usually excellent and the price is very good. The assumption that by curbing imports from China will make people buy from Europe, is totally naive. We and everyone else are now transferring orders to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea etc. Anywhere but Europe, which is too expensive.
Grev Leigh, Bristol, UK

We used to have a clothing industry. It employed many people, mostly on modest wages, but with secure employment. The workers who now make our clothes do so for almost nothing under conditions which would be totally unacceptable in the EU - hence the very low prices so we have more to spend on inflated housing prices. Another example of the "benefits" of free trade to ordinary people the world over. Of course it's now far too late to do anything about this - we just have to live with the consequences and maybe learn that we need to be able to produce a few things ourselves.
Edwood, Malvern UK

What is the alternative with manufacturing drowning under so much anti-productivity legislation that is growing by the day? Who wants to buy a T-shirt for 29.99 or a bra for 25.00. I fact such current market manipulation will probably lead to some retail outlets claiming to have been forced to buy cheap stock and then shoving up the price, ironically in troubled times. Perverse measures for perverse times.
Joan Eccles, London, UK

The fault lies firmly with western greed. we allow a communist country with an appalling record in human rights abuse and persecution of minority groups to flood the market with cheap textiles. suggest distributing the clothing to the third world nations in most need and also tsunami affected regions. Keep the jobs in Europe by placing trade embargos on the Chinese. Western greed however will never allow this to occur.
Gareth, Sydney Australia

It is impossible for local manufacturers to compete with child workers
Mark Heseltine, Cardiff, Wales
It is impossible for local manufacturers to compete with child workers who put in 70 plus hours per week. The EU should only accept imports from countries that share the same standards of worker protections as the EU. The only people who would benefit from selling this stock are those who imported the garments in breach of the caps.
Mark Heseltine, Cardiff, Wales

I don't understand the logic of New Labour shutting down a large sector of British clothing manufacturing via the minimum wage and then having their friend Mr. Mandelson shutting off the alternative supply! Another New Joke from New Labour. Next stop the rest of manufacturing, should be easy with this lot in power!
Dave Swanscombe, Birmingham, England

All Chinese textiles should be confiscated and sent to poor areas of the world as charity donations and high quality British manufacturing should be re-started in Britain for British consumers to create badly needed jobs in Britain. Cheap low quality imports are leading this country towards total collapse.
Carlos Cortiglia, London, United Kingdom

I have plenty of serviceable clothes, I am not a victim of the latest fashions (I hate tracksuits), so this will not affect me in the short term. Of course the this will hit the high street and consumer spending will fall so we are creating the fiscal problems of the not to distant future.
Derek, Bolton

The quotas should be lifted immediately. The EU's actions are hurting poorer people in Europe by depriving them of cheap, high quality clothes and are hurting even poorer people in China by depriving them of a livelihood and the ability to work their way out of poverty. They are also hurting EU based textile workers by removing the incentives for those industries to adapt and thus making their jobs insecure as they depend solely on unfair trade terms. The only beneficiaries are the owners of inefficient clothing factories in the EU who are laughing to the bank and will be well placed to relocate their businesses abroad when these unfair quotas end. The EU is doing is best to make poverty future yet again.
Tom, London

The overall implications of an onslaught from China should be looked at not only in Europe but on a global scale
Fran, Manchester
Things can not remain the same, if China are allowed to export as much as they like, market forces will drive the industry away from Europe and even other countries such as Morocco, India and Taiwan as they will not be able to compete with the Chinese. The overall implications of an onslaught from China should be looked at not only in Europe but on a global scale, as without subsidisation there will eventually be a lack of competition, all caused by greedy retailers and bargain hunting consumers.
Fran, Manchester

More bureaucratic blundering by the EU at our expense and at the expense of our economies! It is amazing how much damage unelected unaccountable bureaucrats can do... and how powerless / unconcerned / anti-business our politicians are... Welcome to the Socialists Republic of Europe!
Kevin T, Alton, UK

Imposing quotas was a stupid move by the EU. It was obvious that once import barriers came down, Chinese imports would go up massively. EU clothing manufacturers have had years to prepare and adapt, if they are not ready yet then no amount of delaying will help. EU should just get out of the way and let us consumers buy the products we want at good prices.
Tony Gosling, London

Nothing can be done. European companies will simply circumvent quotas and tariffs by switching orders (and production) to such countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc. Incidentally, American companies are already preparing for anticipated tariffs and quotas in the U.S. by transferring more and more orders (and production) to Mexico and South America.
Meerkat, Alexandria, VA, USA

The current policy is ill-timed and un-informed
Eddie Espie, Cookstown
The solution to the current problem is simple, release the clothes building up in warehouses. The current policy is ill-timed and un-informed, cutting off your nose to spite your face, will benefit no-one in either the short or long term. If we as Europeans are going to have enforced quotas let them be fair. Why should our retailers and consumers suffer shortages because of some daft European policy which was never properly thought out?.
Eddie Espie, Cookstown

I'd be surprised if China doesn't take the EU to the WTO. You either believe in globalisation and take the bad with the good or you don't and pull out of the WTO. We seem happy enough to make knee jerk decisions that throw thousands of non-Europeans out of work. Perhaps now the shoe is on the other foot we may have a bit more sympathy for the perspective of the developing world who have globalisation imposed upon them. What happens when it isn't a few textile workers jobs that are at risk but those in the city of London
Joe Wilkinson, Whitehaven, UK

A second date should be given in order to protect orders that were given prior to the decision made in June. Everyone is left with a tough decision and hopefully losses of manufacturers may be compensated somehow. The laws of cheap supply and demand apply everywhere around the world- plain and simple.
Esra Karatash Alpay, Istanbul, Turkey


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