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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 15:59, March 22, 2005
US and Europe should not be "Lord Ye"
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Since the beginning of this year when the global textile quotas were abolished as scheduled on January 1 2005 the United States and European textile circles now and then bawled "the wolf has come". They are worried that China's textile products will seize hold of European and the United States markets in a big way, resulting in damaging the interests of their textile industries. Recently the calling of "the wolf has come" can be heard without end. On March 11 manufacturers in the United States called on their government to place curbs on Chinese textile imports. Hearing this, the European Union Textile Committee also called on the EU to adopt the same defensive measures, attempting to curb Chinese textile imports.

Many personages from international trade circles believe that the textile import quota practiced by the United States and European countries is a kind of extremely unfair defensive measures, which, as a result, has greatly restrained and influenced the economic development of the developing countries. As a big country for textiles production in the world China is hurt deeply. Through hard negotiations the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) -- the predecessor of the World Trade Organization -- reached an agreement to gradually abolish the quota system before 2005. That is an important step forward for the world trade system to be favorable to boosting the development of the developing countries. It is also the return of the fair competition principle.

Outwardly, it seems that the United States and EU have got ready for this. However getting used to the defensive quota system they are instinctively going back to the old quota system again in face of the sudden quota-free market and of products with competitiveness. They want to live an easy life like the past. That is the reason why there have been all sorts of censure against Chinese textiles. As to this, the consumers will judge the rights and wrongs of the matter. A Belgian friend of the writer's said that Chinese textiles are of good quality with cheap prices. Why are they not good to consumers? The dissatisfaction from the textile industries does not represent the voices of the broad consumers.

According to statistics the exports volume of Chinese textiles was up 28.77 per cent in January this year over the same period of last year, reaching 8.4 billion US dollars. Of the volume, China's sales to the United States surged 65.26 per cent year-on-year in January, to 1.4 billion US dollars. At the same period shipments to the European Union jumped 46.5 per cent. Judging only from these figures, the increase magnitude of Chinese textile exports is really not small. But there's nothing to be alarmed about if understanding some facts behind the figures. Just as what Wang Shenyang, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Textiles said the surge could be explained by complex factors. China has a strong production capacity in certain kinds of products while the United States and the EU had granted China very small quotas for them. Calculated by these figures there will be a surge in China's export growth when the quotas are abolished. For example, he said, exports of underpants to the United States this year witnessed an eight-fold increase year-on-year while the output of the underpants in China accounts for one third of the total of the world. But the United States has adopted discriminative quota measures against the underpants produced by China and given China a small quota, only accounting for 3 per cent of US imports. The underpants are one of three kinds of US textile imports. The United States imported a total value of 34 billion US dollars last year. The United States gave a quota of 5.5 million dozen on China. After the quota's abolishing there is a rapid surge for US imports of underpants from China. That is because the original basic counting unit subject to quota limitations is used for calculation, which is extremely unfair. What's more, it is not scientific to only look at Chinese textiles with one-month figure.

For a period of time, China is working responsibly to moderate its textile exports, taking care of the interests of their textile industries. From March 1 Chinese government has practiced automatic export permission on part of its export products so that the sensitive products have been monitored in order to reduce their impact on the US and European markets. Some international trade personages appreciate what the Chinese government has done. Facing the pressure from European industries, the European Union Commission is still more rational for the moment. Peter Mandelson, European Commissioner for Trade Statement to the Development Committee of the European Parliament, expressed recently that he would take proper measures at proper time. However he does not advocate putting forward protectionism and letting the international textile industries go back to the old quota system.

The market is a market after all. The market rule of selecting the superior and eliminating the inferior is merciless. The Chinese textiles will go to the world in accordance with the market rule sooner or later. This is the reality that can't be kept out either. The manufacturers in the United States and the EU would rather consider more on how to bring their own advantages into full play than shouting "the wolf has come" in order to maintain their place in the world's textiles market. It is not a permanent policy for them to limit others for their own existence. The world trade has been developed for decades under the principle of unfair competition while the developed countries including the United States and European countries have benefited much from unfair competitions. Now it is time to change it. In the development history of world trade, the European and American countries had tried their best to advocate free trade. Nowadays the textile quota system has been cancelled and the free trade has been implemented. However, the developed countries in America and Europe are both angry and worried due to touching their vested interests. Are they really becoming Lord Ye in the ancient story of China?

The ancient story goes like this: Lord Ye who claimed to be fond of dragons was scared out of his wits when a real one appeared.

By People's Daily Online

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