GENEVA — Developing nations led by China and India voiced concerns at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday that the European Union would make liberal use of antidumping actions and other trade remedies to limit its imports of textiles and apparel after the WTO drops quotas on those categories.
China’s WTO ambassador, Sun Zhenu, said the EU was a “major” player in the use of those measures. He also took issue with a plan unveiled by the European Commission this month to make it easier for local textile manufacturers to file safeguard complaints seeking fresh import restrictions after the 148 WTO nations drop quotas on Jan. 1.
The EU deputy director-general for trade, Pierre Defraigne, said the body has “no intention of abusing trade remedy measures,” but added that “normal and specific rules do apply and may be invoked if and when necessary and justified.”
Defraigne fired back at China, saying the EU “wishes to draw attention to numerous allegations about price undercutting practices which seem to take place in the market.”
The EU imported $67.7 billion, or 71.6 billion euros, worth of textiles and apparel in 2002, and exported $41.4 billion, or 45.8 billion euros, of those products, according to WTO figures. Currency conversions are made at 2002 exchange rates.
A report by the WTO on the EU’s trade regime highlights that from 1991 through 2003 textiles accounted for 9.8 percent of all antidumping duties applied by Brussels and represented 19 percent of all countervailing duty measures.
Linnet F. Deily, deputy U.S. trade representative, said “the EU needs to do more to increase transparency and access to its increasingly complex regulatory and trade policy process.”
David Spencer, Australia’s WTO ambassador, took issue with the EU linking access to its market for goods and services to such matters as labor standards, human rights and environmental accords. He said, “That is using trade policy to achieve nontrade concerns.”
Defraigne told reporters that the EU wouldn’t change its policy stance on trade, environment and social standards.