Fifth day of “textile” talks – so far no progress achieved

European and Chinese negotiators try to sign up a textile trade pact for the fifth day already. The EU trade commissioner planned to offer proposals on unblocking shipments of Chinese clothing piled up at Europe's ports.

In Beijing, officials from the two sides were "in contact" but not holding formal meetings Monday, said Michael Jennings, a spokesman for the European Union office.

There was no word on any progress or on the key sticking points.

Some 75 million Chinese-made sweaters, pants, bras and other clothing are stranded at European ports for exceeding import limits on Chinese goods.

China's textile shipments have surged since the end of global quotas on Jan. 1, prompting the United States and Europe to seek limits to protect their manufacturers.

The European side was expected to seek changes to a textile accord negotiated in June that could bring forward 2006 or 2007 import allowances to ease the holdup.

But Chinese state media has said Beijing might be unwilling to use up next year's allowance early.

Meanwhile, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said he would present EU governments with proposals Monday on freeing the Chinese clothing held up at customs.

"I hope that member states will cooperate with me," he told British Broadcasting Corp. television. "If they cooperate, I believe that we will be able to unblock the all the goods currently held at customs by the middle of next month."

It wasn't clear how the proposals would affect the talks in Beijing. The EU could choose to let the stranded shipments through customs without action from China.

Also this week, a U.S. envoy is due in Beijing on Tuesday to start two days of talks on the textile trade.

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