CHINA ADVISES PRUDENT USE OF QUOTAS ON ITS EXPORTS OF TEXTILES, GARMENTS

CHINA ADVISES PRUDENT USE OF QUOTAS ON ITS EXPORTS OF TEXTILES, GARMENTS

China expects trading partners to be "prudent" in the use of quota controls on its textile and garment exports, complaining that the vital business is being unfairly restrained, Chinese trade officials said.

About 250 categories of textiles worth $12 billion are subject to quota restrictions by the United States, European Union, Canada and Norway, said Shi Miaomiao of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.He said the figure is up from $10 billion in 1994 and involves 30 percent to 40 percent of China's total textile exports.

"Permitted Chinese exports in the sector are much lower than the normal export volume, which will deal a blow to Chinese exports," he said. "And it will have a negative effect on bilateral trade."

In this respect, he returned to the attack on the United States, the single largest market.

Washington announced last May it was further reducing China's permitted sales by 1.8 million dozen garments to take account of alleged illegal shipments. China puts the value at around $100 million.

"The unilateral action has made it difficult for the Chinese side to cooperate with the United States on curbing illegal shipments," Mr. Shi said, speaking of "significant efforts" made to strengthen controls, punish illegal traders and beef up official supervision.

The EU imposed limits this year on silk and cambric (a type of linen) exports worth some $1 billion. Japan says it may impose quotas to mollify its own manufacturers, who say the market is being flooded by cheaper Chinese goods.

Textiles and garments are China's leading export earner, bringing in $35.5 billion last year, or 29 percent of the country's total.

Textile and garment exports in the first half rose 20 percent to $17.84 billion, government figures show. The United States ranked third as a market, taking $1.64 billion worth. Hong Kong remained the leading outlet at $6.33 billion, with Japan second at $3.52 billion.

As well as rising costs at home from a stronger currency and shortage of some raw materials, Chinese exporters also face increasing competition from India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

A fresh session of Sino-Japanese negotiations on the possibility of quota restrictions opened in Beijing last week.

"We hope that joint efforts bear fruit this time," said chief Chinese negotiator Feng Hongzhang. "We wish that both sides take frank and realistic attitudes and reach agreements in more fields so as to avoid unilateral quota restrictions. Otherwise, not only Chinese textile exports but also bilateral trade might suffer," he said.