“We are putting in place a system for monitoring textile clothing imports into the EU for the products to be liberalised,” Mandelson said during a first visit to WTO headquarters in Geneva. .
“It goes without saying that we will use all the instruments at our disposal if action is needed,” he added. China urged Europe last month to refrain from “putting up barriers” that would hit Chinese textiles. .
Mandelson, who took over as trade chief for the 25-nation European bloc on Monday, ruled out any attempt to renege on the international agreement to end import quotas on textiles, which was concluded nine years ago. “I noted some calls for this but I do not support these calls,” he told journalists.The phase-out agreement allows countries to ask the WTO for a limited cap on exports from another producer if there is “market disruption”, but only until the end of 2008.
China stands to make huge gains in major export markets like the United States and Europe after the quotas, which were designed 40 years ago to allow protective caps on imports, are lifted.
About 20 smaller or poor producers, including Bangladesh, Mexico, Mauritius and Tunisia, that have built up their industrial capacity around textiles, fear massive job losses amid unbridled competition from the Asian giant.
They have urged other trading nations to temper the impact of the binding agreement, while the WTO has said it is lining up World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) support for poor countries that suffer.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICTFU) warned yesterday that the phase-out would affect about 40 million people employed in the sector worldwide, and particularly in poor countries.With its huge industrial capacity and labour force, China already booming textiles industry is expected to account for half of the world clothing exports by 2010, compared to about 25 per cent at present. .
Mandelson said he understood the concerns of developing countries and accepted that some may need support in the face of China “huge comparative advantage” in the sector.
“But it equally true that this has been in the making for the last 10 years. There has been time to adjust,” he added. .
China accounted for more than 30 per cent of the EU imported textiles in 2002..
Source: The Jamaica Observer