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Mandelson calls for fair trade with China

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has said he is ready to use all of the instruments at his disposal if the end of quotas on clothing in January causes a sudden upsurge in Chinese textile imports.

Yesterday Mandelson told lawmakers at European Parliament, "I see textiles problems as emblematic of the broader problems we face in China...We expect some sort of equal opportunity and fair treatment in China's market than Chinese producers receive in ours."

The quotas on Chinese clothing were put in place in 2005 after European countries tracked a huge upsurge in Chinese imports which European manufacturers alleged were damaging their businesses. These quotas will be lifted at the end of this year and will not be renewed but the EU has set up a monitoring system which will alert authorities if there is a repeat flooding of Chinese goods into Europe.

Lawmakers and MEP's urged Mandelson not to hesitate in using "trade defence instruments" to ensure "Europe can compete on a level playing field" when the quotas are lifted.

The EU ran a trade deficit of EUR 128 billion (£91.6bn) with China last year. This is likely to balloon to EUR 170bn (£121.6bn) in 2007.

European manufacturers say China is adding insult to injury because they feel it has not opened up its domestic market to European goods and has not addressed counterfeiting issues. Mandelson estimated that counterfeiting and market access barriers were costing European business EUR55 million (£39.3m) a day in foregone sales.

Mandelson said: "Instead of a level playing field, it is seriously tilted against us. We face trade and investment restrictions, rampant counterfeiting; regulatory barriers in virtually every sector."

Mandelson added that the EU textile and apparel industry "is going through a long period of structural change." He said European companies doing well, were those that were not taking the mass producers head-on, but instead are investing in technology and quality.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Once again, we face the prospect of Peter Mandelson's political sabre rattling bringing uncertainty into our trade with China. Politicians cannot turn back the clock. A market has been created for low cost well made clothing from China - Mr Mandelson asks for a level playing field - does that mean he wants to scrap the minimum wage in Europe and subsidise other costs in Europe? I think he is utterly misguided and nothing good can possibly come from his threats to use all the 'tools at his disposal' against China.

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  • Wasn't there enough confusion the last time ? Surely there was lessons learn't.I am based in China and will be exporting and cannot afford to have last minute rule changes cause there was not enough forethought

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