Turkey applies textile quotas

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has decided to impose textile quotas to protect its large domestic industry against an onslaught of cheap Chinese textile and apparel imports. The Foreign Trade Undersecretariat said in its decision, published on Thursday, that booming imports from China threatened fair trade, squeezing out local manufacturers and driving down prices. A decades-old quota system limiting Chinese textile exports ends on Jan. 1 and the World Trade Organization estimates that within three years the Asian giant could be producing over half of the world’s textiles, up from 17 percent in 2003. The end of the quota regime has spawned fears of widespread job losses around the world, including in Turkey, whose own textiles and apparel exports stand at around $20 billion a year. Beijing announced on December 13 it would impose a tax on some textile and apparel exports, but says it respects WTO rules and that it can ship cheaper goods because it is more competitive. «What Turkey did (in announcing quotas) is positive for protecting our own market, but now we look to Europe for similar measures,» Suleyman Orakcioglu, head of the Istanbul Ready-Made Garment Exporters Association, told Reuters on Friday. European curbs on China would benefit Turkey, too, as the latter is a major exporter to Europe. Under its quota decision, Turkey will restrict the rise of imports from China to 7.5 percent for one year in 42 categories, including clothes for men, women and children as well as bathroom and textiles products used in house decoration. Ankara will inform the Chinese authorities of its decision on Monday and will start implementing the restrictions on January 14, said Orakcioglu, adding that China had the right to object. More international talks are on the way in the WTO in 2005, Orakcioglu said. «We will present a report by early March documenting (expected) average price drops and rising market share by China following the quota phase-out,» he said. A demand to implement global safeguard measures against Chinese exports would follow. A lobby group of European textile manufacturers, Euratex, has applied to the European Commission for safeguard measures in five categories, said Orakcioglu, who is a founding member of the 52-nation Global Alliance for Fair Textile Trade.