Start unpacking the warehouses! The European Union and China have struck a deal to free up Chinese textiles imports held back by quotas. Officials said it illustrated the opportunities to be grasped. The physical act of the document handover — almost fumbled — marked the eighth annual summit between the two economic giants.
Trade chief Peter Mandelson with other EU officials and EU and British business leaders are accompanying Prime Minister Tony Blair, heading the current EU presidency, on a four-day tour of China and India. Blair set an amicable tone:“As our trade increases, there will be, as we have seen over the issue of textile from time to time, disagreements. The important thing is to resolve those disagreements and then continue to increase the trade between China and Europe.” Some 80 million items are piled up at EU ports. The deal is: China agrees to count roughly half the goods as part of next year’s quota. EU states with strong retail sectors had demanded a swift release, while large textile producers fearful of competition from China had pressed for cuts in Beijing’s limits for coming years in return for letting the impounded merchandise in.