The state-run Xinhua news agency published on Saturday a lengthy commentary praising the EU for upholding "the principles of free trade" and used the opportunity to criticise what it called Washington's protectionist stance.

 

EU and China agreed on Friday to curb Chinese textiles going to Europe until the end of 2008, in a bid to defuse an escalating trade row straining ties between the EU and Beijing.

 

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson declined to reveal the specific details of the deal but said the agreed growth rates of Chinese imports were "fair and generous to China".

 

China had until the end of Friday to agree to curb the growth of T-shirt and flax yarn exports going to the EU to 7.5% a year or face temporary caps on the products.

 

"EU's move is in sharp contrast with the US slapping of import limits, an approach that is widely criticised by the international community as discriminatory and protectionist, undercutting the very principles it is promoting," it said.

Quota system

EU and the US have both expressed concern over a huge jump in Chinese T-shirt and flax yarn exports after the end of the global textile quota system on 1 January.
 

Washington has since slapped import quotas on seven categories of Chinese textile goods.

 

"More importantly, the restrictions will eventually backlash to hurt the Americans"

Bo Xilai,
Chinese Commerce Minister

Xinhua said Washington's restrictive measures would likely cause $2 billion losses to the Chinese textile industry and would also cost about 400,000 workers their jobs.

 

"More importantly, the restrictions will eventually backlash to hurt the Americans," Xinhua said.

 

American consumers will have to spend 20% more on clothing, while retailers will be forced to shift to other low-cost countries, if the US makes Chinese import more expensive, it said.

EU sincerity

Xinhua said the EU, in contrast, showed sincerity by sending its ministers to China to discuss trade issues in an attempt to avert a trade war.

 

"The Chinese government appreciates the EU's sincerity in solving trade disputes with China through dialogue and consultation, instead of taking unilateral actions," Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai was quoted as saying.

  

State television said on Saturday the agreement with the EU set an excellent precedent for solving trade disputes in the globalisation era.

 

"The success of the negotiation has not only resolved the Sino-EU textile trade dispute, but has also set a good example amid the globalisation of the textile industry," China Central Television said in a morning news report.

 

It said the agreement would safeguard the interest of the Chinese textile industry and would provide a stable trade environment for Chinese companies.

Foreign pressure

"For Chinese companies, the best news is that the EU

The Chinese action was seen by
some as 'one-sided concession'

promised ... that it will limit the special restrictive measures imposed on Chinese textile industry," it said. "(This) will ensure a stable trade environment for the textile industry in the next three years."

 

China's textile exports to EU were worth $10.79 billion in 2004, 6% of the total China-EU bilateral trade, which totalled $177.3 billion, Xinhua said.

 

But some Chinese expressed dissatisfaction over their country's action, criticizing the government for selling out on Chinese workers' interests and giving in to foreign pressure.

 

"It feels like we have made a one-sided concession. Under the WTO rules the textile trade should be completely free," one internet posting on the bulletin board on the popular sina.com website said.