By  on May 22, 2007

GENEVA — Mexico, Bangladesh and Egypt, along with some African and Central American textile and apparel exporters, backed a new push by Turkey on Monday to get the World Trade Organization to review the implications of the end of quotas in the sector.

However, major exporters led by China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia rejected the latest move during a session of the WTO's council on trade in goods, trade diplomats said.

Repeated efforts by Turkey, which has the support of U.S. textile industry groups, have failed to make headway because of opposition from major exporters who view the efforts as a first step to usher in a new restrictive regime.

A senior Turkish trade official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was "not surprised to see China rejecting our proposal" and added that Turkey intends to continue to push the issue. The official said sufficient data is now available for the WTO to examine the production, trade and investment flows since the end of quotas on Jan. 1, 2005.

But a senior Chinese trade diplomat, who also did not want to be named, said Turkey was acting as "a proxy" for the U.S. and European Union, backed by protectionist lobbies, who as he put it are "too shy" themselves to call for another restrictive quota regime.

Asked about the support by Egypt and Bangladesh, the Chinese official said, "It's no surprise to us they are both receiving preferences from the EU and have no incentive to see further liberalization in the sector."

The Chinese envoy said the effort by Turkey was "futile" and added, "We don't care how many times they put forward a proposal [for a WTO program], China will always say there's to be no program. It's as simple as that."

The Turkish official also said African countries such as the Ivory Coast and Cameroon are interested in its initiative because the same issues affect their cotton industries.

Chinese officials reiterated that countries that are against the moves by Turkey combine to account for 85 percent of global trade in textiles and apparel, and added that continued efforts by Turkey to keep the issue on the WTO agenda "was a waste of time and energy."

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