- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

BEIJING (AP) — China yesterday announced new tariffs that it hopes will hold down surging textile exports in an effort to avert a trade war with the United States and Europe.

Beijing took the step despite accusing Washington of treating China unfairly and saying earlier U.S. and European market barriers were to blame for the surge in Chinese textile imports after a worldwide quota system expired Jan. 1.

The new measure takes effect June 1 and will raise tariffs on 74 types of goods by as much as 400 percent, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It didn’t give details, but said China now charges tariffs of 2 percent to 4 percent on 148 categories of textile and clothing exports. That would mean the new tariffs could range from 10 percent to 20 percent.

French Industry Minister Patrick Devedjian, who was visiting Beijing, welcomed the move, saying, “There’s no doubt it’s the right direction.”

In Washington, Commerce Department spokesman Dan Nelson didn’t offer much insight into U.S. thoughts on China’s action. He said there will be “an opportunity for discussion” about China’s tariffs announcement when the two countries consult in late May over recent decisions by the U.S. to impose limits on certain types of Chinese clothing shipped to America.

The Bush administration was reviewing China’s list of textile exports on which it will boost tariffs, a government official said.

Textiles are one of a series of disputes that have strained relations between China and its trading partners. The United States, European Union and other governments also are pressing Beijing to raise the state-set value of its currency and to stamp out rampant product piracy.

Chinese textile producers will have to “make sacrifices,” said Sun Huaibin, a spokesman for the official China Textile Industry Council, quoted by Xinhua.

“China is a responsible country, and it is for the purpose of helping establish a new world textile trade order and ease the trade friction that the government made the concession,” Mr. Sun said.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing welcomed the move.

“I think this is going to have a real impact,” said Charles M. Martin, the group’s president.

The tariffs announced yesterday are the second Chinese effort to hold down exports of low-priced textiles that U.S. and European governments say are threatening their producers with bankruptcy.

China imposed a 1.3 percent export tax on textiles in December on the eve of the end of global quotas, but American officials said that was too low to make a difference.

The order by China’s Customs Tariff Commission also cuts the tax for knitted garment accessories and three varieties of briefs and shorts will be reduced, Xinhua reported.

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