The office of European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has reportedly informed the Italian government that he does not consider likely the extension of the European Union’s current restrictions on the import of Chinese textiles and apparel and that existing quotas will be lifted as planned next Jan 1.

Introduced in June 2005, the temporary restrictions apply to ten types of fabrics and apparel — including T-shirts, pullovers, trousers and shirts. Textile producers like Italy, France and Spain were seeking to prolong the restrictions at least for another year, but the letter apparently indicates that there is no way to reach a new bilateral agreement with the Chinese government on quotas, but talks continue on a system of dual monitoring of trade flows in the sector. Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany support the phase-out of the quotas.

Separately, the European Union’s Council of Ministers has increased the main anti-dumping duty on Chinese woven fabrics made of polyester filament yarn from 56.2 to 74.8 percent. Some producers were allowed to pay less duty, but they have been raised, too. The decision results from complaints by European fabric producers about the ineffectiveness of the existing anti-dumping duties which were imposed in 2005. The European Commission has been authorized to reopen textile and clothing trade quota talks with Belarus, which is currently applying for World Trade Organization (WTO) membership.