By  on October 10, 2007

GENEVA — European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said Tuesday the 27-nation bloc and China have agreed on a joint import surveillance system to track textile and apparel shipments for one year in 2008, when import quotas on 10 sensitive categories expire.

"I welcome this step in the cooperation between the EU and China in ensuring a smooth transition to free trade in textiles," Mandelson said in a statement. "A system of joint monitoring means predictability for EU producers and traders."

The measures, viewed by importers and retailers as an administrative burden, were welcomed by the European Apparel & Textile Organization, also known as Euratex.

"In the absence of quotas after the end of 2007, this agreement offers the most practical means of contributing to the smooth transition of quota-free trade during the course of 2008," said Euratex president Michele Tronconi.

He said the new agreement will provide the industry and EU officials with the ability to "closely monitor trade flows from China in these core categories," and also provide "the opportunity, should the need arise, to seek redress, and thus to avoid a rerun of the events in the summer of 2005."

The dual system will cover eight of the 10 most sensitive product categories covered by the China-EU deal of June 2005, reached after a surge in imports following the end of the global quota regime on Jan. 1, 2005.

The bilateral accord limited the growth rates to between 8 and 12.5 percent. The categories that will be covered by the new monitoring system include T-shirts, sweatshirts, men's trousers, blouses, dresses, bras, bed linen and flax yarn.

The dual system will track the issuing of licenses in China for export and the importation of goods in the EU. However, the goods monitored will not be subject to import restrictions under this arrangement.

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