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China, EU reach deal to settle textile dispute
www.chinaview.cn 2005-06-11 07:34:43

Related: EU agrees to stop investigation on 10 lines of Chinese textile exports  

Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai (R) shakes hands with European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson at the signing ceremony of the China-EU textile trade agreement in Shanghai June 11, 2005.
Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai (R) shakes hands with European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson at the signing ceremony of the China-EU textile trade agreement in Shanghai June 11, 2005. China and the European Union (EU) have reached a deal to manage the growth of Chinese textile exports to the EU in the coming three years after a lengthy close-door meeting between senior trade officials from the two sides.(Xinhua Photo)
China and the European Union reached a deal in the wee hours on Saturday to settle their ongoing dispute in textile trade.
Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai (R) presents a T-shirt made in China as a gift to European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson (L) during their joint press conference in Shanghai June 11, 2005. (Xinhua Photo)

    SHANGHAI, June 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Following 10 hours of marathon talks between top trade officials, China and the European Union reached a deal in the wee hours on Saturday to settle their ongoing dispute in textile trade.

    The deal, struck between Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in their closed-door discussions which began at 2 p.m. Friday in Shanghai, will limit the growth of Chinese textile and clothing exports to EU in the coming three years, to secure a smooth transition before the complete opening of the European market to Chinese textile products in 2008.

    Bo defined the agreement as an endeavor to "provide a sound development environment for Chinese textile enterprises as well as allow the European manufacturers a grace period to smoothly adapt themselves to the Chinese textile imports."

    At a press conference held immediately after the lengthy talks,Bo said China deserves free textile trading in the process of global textile integration.

    "China's right to a free textile trade is fully justified, just as our rights in the service trade and agricultural sector as having been made clear upon China's accession into the World Trade Organization three years ago," he said.

    The minister also expressed his appreciation of EU's sincerity in settling the Sino-EU trade dispute through "dialogue and consultation," which he said has constituted a sharp contrast to "certain countries' one-sided action" in handling similar problems.

    The challenges posed by the Chinese textile products to the EU market are "positive" and would likely help sharpen EU companies' competitive edge in this regard, said the minister, emphasizing that the Sino-EU strategic partnership is not "merely an empty talk."

    The hard-won deal between China and EU was also lauded by Mandelson, who described it as "a significant demonstration that China is entering the global economy as a responsible and valuable partner."

    "China is entitled to reap the legitimate benefits and its comparative advantages of its WTO position, while managing its integration into the global economy in a way that avoids fears of China, and a way that does not provoke protectionist backlash of the European enterprises and general public," said Mandelson, who called himself a firm advocate of free trade, at the press conference.

    The EU Trade Commissioner also praised the way in which the Chinese government had responded to EU's concerns on the matter.

    "I think all these go very well for our future relationship," said Mandelson, who received a Chinese-made T-shirt from Bo as a special gift marking the cynosural talks.

    During the strenuous talks, both sides have said that they value their all-round strategic partnership and are willing to promote bilateral trade and economic relations on the principle ofmutual benefit, said a Chinese Ministry of Commerce statement issued early on Saturday.

    The two sides also agreed that it is crucial to properly solve all issues in bilateral textile trade and avoid unilateral actionsand trade frictions, said the statement.

    Saturday's deal between China and EU was applauded by trade experts in Beijing as a "wise decision" that will offer both sidesmore win-win results in trade relations.

    "It is a pragmatic choice for both sides, especially when bilateral trade ties were endangered by the dispute," said Zhang Xiaoji, a research fellow with the Development and Research Center of the State Council, China's Cabinet, in a telephone interview with Xinhua.

    Zhang said that EU became the largest trade partner for China last year, and that the two sides have established close interdependence not only in trade relations, but also in their respective economic development process.

    "To screw up such relations just because of the textile trade, which only accounts for a very small proportion of bilateral trade,is obviously in nobody's interest," Zhang said.

    Zhao Yumin, an expert with China Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, said the China-EU agreement reached on Saturday is "a fairly satisfactory result" for both sides.

    Talks have been going on between China and the European Union over the past weeks over an alleged export surge of Chinese-made textile and clothing to the European market after the elimination of global quotas on Jan. 1 this year.

    China-EU trade totaled 177.3 billion US dollars in 2004 and China's textile exports to EU were valued at 10.79 billion US dollars.

    Bilateral trade in the first five months of this year reached 81.84 billion US dollars, up 24.2 percent over the same period of last year. Enditem

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