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US, China Negotiate Textile Trade Dispute

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are meeting in Beijing to try to resolve an ongoing textile dispute. EU trade officials left Beijing on Monday after failing to resolve a similar dispute with China.

U.S. chief textile negotiator David Spooner met with China's Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng in Beijing for a fourth round of talks on China's textile exports to the United States.

U.S. textile producers have made clear they want tighter restrictions on imports of Chinese-made shirts, pants, and other clothing, that have surged since global textile quotas ended on January 1.

Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation research fellow Zhao Yumin says the textile industry is a very important part of China's economy.

"China does not have a lot of industries and this industry [textiles] provides a lot of income and lowers poverty," he said.

In May, the United States placed temporary caps of seven-point-five-percent growth a year on imports of some Chinese textiles. China's official Xinhua News Agency quoted official figures as saying almost all those caps have been reached.

Beijing wants to see the caps lifted or at least loosened up so more Chinese textiles can reach the United States. Chinese officials argue that U.S. manufacturers had decades to prepare for the end of the global trade quotas.

China and the European Union failed to reach an agreement over the weekend on a similar dispute, which has left tons of Chinese clothing stranded in European ports.

Many analysts think the Chinese and U.S. negotiators are eager to reach a deal a week before China's President Hu Jintao meets with President Bush in Washington.

For three decades, quotas limited the volume of textiles and garments any country could export to another country. The idea was to protect the textile industries of higher-cost developed nations from low-cost competition in the developing economies.

While producers complain the end of the quotas has hurt them, many retailers in developed economies insist that restricting Chinese imports will hurt sales and force them to raise prices.