BRUSSELS — The end of textile and clothing quotas only will be successful in liberalizing trade if World Trade Organization countries also eliminate nontariff barriers and give preferential treatment to countries likely to be hardest hit by the changes, trade officials said at the opening of a two-day European Commission-sponsored conference Monday.

European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy set the stage by noting the quota system that has governed the world apparel trade for four decades is to end in less than 20 months. In January 2005, after a 10-year phaseout called for by the WTO’s Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, importing countries will no longer be allowed to discriminate against exporters.

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