EU hopes Chinese textile deal be approved next week

The European Commission said it hopes EU member states will early next week approve the textile deal with China that was finalised yesterday.

”The first signals that we have received from member states appear to be positive,” commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde said.

”But the member states must have proper time to study and absorb the agreement ... We expect to be able to complete the procedure quickly, early next week so we can put into effect,” she was quoted as saying by Forbes.

Earlier, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said he is 'confident' that member states will endorse the deal.

The Chinese leadership is facing "unstoppable momentum towards greater political freedom", Tony Blair said on Tuesday at the end of two days of talks in Beijing.

After meetings lasting eight hours with Wen Jiabao, China's premier, Mr Blair said there had been "full, open, frank and constructive" discussions over a wide range of issues including democracy and human rights, according to Financial Times.

"There was no desire to escape this topic," Mr Blair said, indicating that the Chinese were more willing to discuss the issue than on his previous two visits to China. "There was a genuine sense of engagement."

The prime minister said that with increasing economic interdependence with the west, a burgeoning middle class and 100m users of the internet, the pressure for political reforms was bound to grow.

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