22 September 2005 | Anusha Bradley
Buyers concerned about Chinese goods failing to arrive in the UK because of a quota backlog should not worry, according to the European Commission.
Its assurance follows the delay of millions of imported garments under a limit between the EU and China - the so-called "bra wars".
An EC spokesman told SM it is illegal for the EU to impose quotas on products other than clothing. This, he said, is stipulated by the World Trade Organisation.
Meanwhile, around 87 million extra pieces of clothing are now trickling into the EU after an agreement was reached on textiles held up in the recent dispute.
Garments were left piled in warehouses at borders after five types of clothing exceeded their limits only months after they were agreed (see News, 25 August
). Alasdair Gray, director of the British Retail Consortium in Brussels, said many retailers were switching to suppliers in other countries. This, he added, wasted investment made in relationships with Chinese suppliers.
Marks & Spencer said 10 per cent of its bra supply was affected by the hold-up, and it was sourcing them from other countries.
Gray had claimed retailers might be hit with quotas for footwear, plastic bags and DVDs from China and Vietnam as early as November. But the EC spokesman said tariffs, and not quotas, might be applied to those items.