The European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is facing calls on Friday from the bloc's importers not to extend quota restrictions beyond this year on Chinese textiles.
Mandelson will meet with representatives from European textile importers on Friday, hearing industry views on the transition to free trade in textiles and clothing with China in 2008, the European Commission said on its website.
The EU and China reached an agreement in June 2005 to limit Chinese exports in 10 categories such as pullovers until 2008. As the quota restriction is set to expire at the end of this year, European textile producers and some EU member states are pressing hard for an extension of the cap on cheap textile imports from China.
Next Monday, Mandelson will hold a separate meeting with European textile producers association Euratex. The EU trade chief is expected to say that the European Commission will closely monitor developments in textile and clothing imports from China in 2008, the Commission's website said.
Ahead of Friday's meeting with Mandelson, the Foreign Trade Association, which represents EU importers, called for assurances that no new restrictions will be imposed after the end of this year.
"The FTA is opposing any prolongation to this restrictive system," it said in a statement.
The association said the quota restriction creates uncertainty for retailers and importers, who have already placed orders for delivery in 2008 under the assumption that the cap will be removed.
The EU should "accept the reality that in today's global marketplace more and more products are imported from developing countries that offer good quality at good prices which drive down consumer prices," the statement said.
Restriction on Chinese textile products "simply serves to protect further those industries in the EU that have remained uncompetitive," it added.
Trade ministers from member states, who have the capacity to make a final decision, will meet Mandelson on the Chinese textile quota this Sunday at an informal dinner.