WASHINGTON — Efforts to bring together U.S. and Chinese officials to resume talks on the countries’ lapsed bilateral textile agreement apparently were stymied Tuesday by a bit of diplomatic parrying.
Sources said China refused to consider a U.S. proposal to start three days of talks here today unless the U.S. delegation included Charlene Barshefsky, the deputy U.S. Trade Representative. U.S. officials reportedly balked at this, maintaining that Jennifer Hillman, the chief U.S. textile negotiator, was the proper party to head the talks for the U.S.
The Chinese request reportedly followed an American request that China’s delegation be headed by a top foreign trade minister.
Efforts to reach U.S. trade officials, including Hillman, and textile negotiators at China’s embassy here, were unsuccessful.
The textile bilateral pact expired Dec. 31. The U.S. had proposed to slash China’s textile and apparel import quotas by 25 to 35 percent until China takes certain measures to end alleged apparel transshipping. U.S. trade officials claim China illegally transships $2 billion worth of such goods to the U.S. annually. The U.S. also has demanded it has the right to reduce China’s quotas by three times the amount of goods that are illegally transshipped in the future.
Chinese negotiators have maintained they have taken concrete steps to stop illegal quota circumvention. The two nations’ textile negotiators last met in mid-December in Geneva, but the talks collapsed after two days.
“Our entire delegation felt the U.S. was not making any progress, and China didn’t show any flexibility,” Hillman said after the talks.