EU clothes firms get round China quotas
By Lisbeth Kirk
Following introduction of quotas to curb explosive Chinese textile exports to the EU last summer, European textile businesses seem to have found other ways to import cheap clothing.
The EU quotas on Chinese textiles lead to mountains of Chinese garments pilling up at ports in what became known in the press as the "bra war."
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But one year later the situation is completely different with as little as just one third of the quotas used up, according to Swedish business paper N24.
Import statistics show Hong Kong is now exporting more than the whole of China of the qouta-covered goods.
The figures are so high it would mean the whole of Hong Kong would be working only for the textile industry, textile analyst Henrik Isakson from Kommerskollegium, the Swedish governmental agency dealing with foreign trade and trade policy, told the paper.
"The degree of utilization of Chinese quotas are very low and everybody is wondering why. My theory is that a great deal of smuggling is taking place," said Ake Weyler from the Textile Importers Association in Sweden to the paper.
Textile exports to the EU have largely moved to other Asian countries, unpublished figures from the Swedish agency showed.
South Korean textile exports to the EU have risen 140 percent in the past year, Bangladesh exports grew by 47 percent, Indian by 37 percent and Vietnamese by 140 per cent.
But second to none is Hong Kong where textile exports to the EU have risen by 234 per cent compared to last year.
"Everybody in the business knows that textiles from Hong Kong are manufactured in China," Mr Weyler added.
But it is hard to control all sub-suppliers and EU resources to control imports are limited.