Europeans will lack T-shirts

European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson warned that consumers will pay higher prices and face clothing shortages unless EU governments release more than 80 million items of Chinese garments blocked from entering Europe.

Mandelson imposed limits on imports of clothing from China in June to protect European manufacturers including Italy's Marzotto SpA. With quotas for most of the 10 textile categories already filled, shops are finding supplies for their winter collections stranded in European ports, Bloombery reports.

Keeping the goods impounded will result in “severe economic pain for many small businesses,” Mandelson told a European Parliament trade committee in Brussels today. “It could mean some shortages during autumn, but more likely higher consumer prices for many of our citizens.”

T-shirts, sweaters, trousers, women's shirts and brassieres are among products that can't enter Europe from China. Pro-trade groups including Euro commerce and retailers such as Hennes & Mauritz AB have been joined by governments in Sweden and the Netherlands in arguing that orders paid for before the limits kicked in are being unfairly obstructed.

Germany, Denmark and Finland have also voiced discontent with the quotas, opening up a split within the 25-nation EU between northern and southern nations. Greece, Italy and France were among a group of countries that pushed Mandelson to act after the end of a global quota system on Jan. 1 allowed producers in China, the world's biggest textile exporter, to increase their market share.

Whereas reported earlier today, that U.S. and Chinese officials began talks Tuesday on American efforts to limit surging imports of low-priced Chinese sweaters, bras and other textile goods that U.S. producers say are damaging their industry.

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