China-US Sixth Round of Textile Negotiations Concludes No Agreement
The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China said that the sixth round of China-US textile consultations ended in Beijing on the 13th, and the two sides did not reach any agreement.
The originally scheduled two-day closed-door consultations actually took only one and a half days. "We have not reached an agreement that meets the needs of our domestic manufacturers and retailers," said David Spooner, a US representative, in a written statement.
"Our goal has always been to seek a long-term solution that will make the textile and apparel trade more stable," he said. The US representative did not disclose whether some progress has been made in this round of consultations. The Chinese representative in this round of consultations is still Lu Jianhua, the director of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce, and the representative sent by the United States is also David Spooner, the special negotiator for textiles at the US Trade Office.
Zhao Yumin, director of the International Markets Department of the International Trade and Economic Cooperation Research Institute of the Ministry of Commerce, said that there is currently a lack of a strong external force to promote breaking the deadlock. She said that, in terms of economic interests, the Sino-US textile trade issue is not complicated. Such trade disputes are well resolved under the conditions of "mutual benefit and mutual concession, seeking common ground while shelving differences", just like the agreement reached between China and the EU. Since the cancellation of the global textile quota system on January 1, this year, the United States and Europe have initiated special protection procedures for Chinese textiles on the grounds that Chinese textile exports have soared.
China and the EU signed a memorandum on Chinese textile exports to Europe in June and reached a consensus on the issue of Chinese textiles staying in Hong Kong in September.
However, China and the United States conducted five rounds of consultations on the textile issue, all without success. So far, the United States has set quota limits on nine Chinese textiles, including knitted shirts and cotton pants.
"The situation in China and the United States is different from that in Central Europe. There are many other factors mixed in the textile issue between China and the United States." Zhao Yumin said.
She said, first of all, the "China Threat Theory" has a great market in the United States. The trade surplus between China and the United States is very large, and the rapid growth of Chinese textile exports to the United States is prone to alert. Second, the textile issue has been used as a bargaining weight by the US government, which has also increased the difficulty of negotiations. The focus of the China-US textile consultations has always been the setting of limits, length of time, growth rate, and setting of bases. China hopes to set a limit by the end of 2007, while the United States insists on covering it until 2008.
However, on the issue of growth rate, it is reported that the United States once conceded and increased the growth rate allowed by the limit.
Zhao Yumin said: "What the U.S. industry hopes to achieve is a relatively large-scale, long-term, low-growth plan. If such a plan even exceeds the scope stipulated in Article 242, it is certainly not acceptable to China."
She said that the dispute over Sino-US textile trade this year "is about the same." The United States has set a limit on the rapid growth of textile exports to China, and from a time perspective, the deadline for the end of 2005 will soon be reached.
According to analysis of insiders close to the negotiations, if nothing unexpected happens, the hope of reaching an agreement between the two sides this year is very slim. Perhaps China and the United States can reach a certain consensus on this issue early next year.
On the eve of the sixth round of consultations, the Executive Committee of the US Textiles Agreement announced on the 5th that it had decided to accept the requirements of the domestic textile industry and considered imposing import quota restrictions on 13 categories of Chinese textile and apparel products. Among them, for the nine restricted products that will expire at the end of 2005, the US is considering re-establishing restrictions.
The uncertainty caused by the US restrictions has made Chinese textile companies afraid to accept orders and American businessmen afraid to place orders easily, which has affected the normal bilateral trade. According to Sun Huabin, a spokesperson for the China Textile Industry Association, this year, due to US restrictions, Chinese textile exports to the United States have decreased by at least 2 billion to 3 billion US dollars.