EC PANEL TALKS EXPORTS: A European Commission-appointed panel studying how to make the region’s textile and apparel firms more competitive held its first meeting Friday, and foreign barriers to exports were a key topic.

Opening foreign markets to European exports, along with enhanced technology, are seen as key to keeping the two sectors afloat after 2005 when global quotas limiting trade in textiles and apparel for World Trade Organization members are lifted.

“Most of our competitors’ markets are not open,” European Union trade commissioner Pascal Lamy told the Textiles High Level Group in Brussels, according to an EU statement. Lamy cited export market barriers in China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan as being particularly onerous.

Erkki Liikanen, chief of the EC’s Enterprise and Information Society, suggested the twin industries were too fragmented and needed more collaboration.

The panel was created to address the expected fallout from the 2005 quota elimination. Like in the U.S., EU textile and apparel producers fear an increased onslaught of imports from low-cost foreign suppliers, with China leading the pack. The EU’s textile and apparel sector accounts for about 4 percent of the EU’s total manufacturing production, 7 percent of manufacturing employment, with 2.1 million workers.

The panel is expected to produce recommendations for specific action in a report in July. — Joanna Ramey

D&G GOES U.K.: Dolce & Gabbana launched its first D&G flagship in the U.K. last week on London’s New Bond Street. The 9,000-square-foot store is housed in a three-story space designed by architect Rodolfo Dordoni. It features D&G logos throughout, as well as reflective glass and iron plate fixtures. The store will house the full D&G collection, including a D&G Junior department. A company spokesman said the opening is part of a general D&G expansion, with a store in Seoul having opened in February and a store in Amsterdam set to open next month. The D&G flagship will complement London’s existing Dolce & Gabbana units on New Bond Street and Sloane Street. — Nina Jones

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