New textile deal reached between Beijing and Europe

Beijing (AsiaNews) – After a week-long marathon of talks, an agreement has been reached between China and the European Union to resolve the crisis of Chinese garments blocked in European ports.

Thanks to the agreement, half of nearly 80 million garments blocked in Europe will be cleared through customs, thus exceeding quotas established in June. The other half will be loaded onto next year's quotas. Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, said the agreement was honest and acceptable for all. But the European Union has yet to submit the deal to discussion by its 25 member states. 

The imposition of quotas has created a twofold problem for Europe: on one hand, the prices of Chinese products are strongly competitive and they threaten industries in southern Europe. On the other hand, the reduction of quotas has sparked a crisis in retail sales, with empty shelves and fears of not having merchandise to display by Christmas. As a result of Chinese competition, more than 165,000 jobs were axed in the European textile industry in 2004. In 2005, another million jobs are at risk.

The solution to the textile crisis coincided with the presence of Premier Tony Blair in Beijing for a periodic meeting between the European Union and China.

Intended items on the agenda for talks between the two delegations were international security, human rights, and withdrawing the arms embargo, but the dispute on textile products and other economic issues overshadowed all other problems.

Meanwhile, China Southern Airlines today signed a contract to buy 10 Airbus A330 aircraft for 1.5 billion US dollars. The Airbus belong to a European consortium; 20% is owned by the British BAE Systems.

Blair said Europe will collaborate with China towards power plants using clean energy from coal and low-emission technologies.