China and the European Union have reached an agreement to unblock Chinese-made garments stuck at ports of entry in Europe. The two sides struck the deal as Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, began a visit to China meant to promote trade.
Tony Blair arrived in the Chinese capital Monday for a one-day European Union-China summit. Acknowledging the difficulty of the textile talks that lasted for days, Mr. Blair told a group of business leaders China and Europe must work more than ever to build trade ties in the age of globalization.
Mr. Blair said, "In the world that is developing around us today, there is, of course, a place for managing change. What there is no case for doing is resisting change. And the changes that are happening around us, and that are driving this growth in trade between China and Europe, are changes that I see, not as a threat, but as an opportunity."
Negotiations in Beijing stretched for days before EU officials announced a deal in Brussels. The agreement effectively raises import quotas, allowing for about 75-million bras, t-shirts, sweaters, trousers and other Chinese-made garments to enter EU nations.
At a briefing Monday, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said the agreement was fair and acceptable to both sides. However, the deal still requires the approval of the European Union's 25 member nations.
Chinese textile exports have surged since worldwide import quotas expired at the start of this year, raising concerns that cheap Chinese garment imports may drive European textile manufacturers out of business.
Talks on a similar textile dispute between China and the United States ended last week with no agreement. U.S. officials said they are consulting with the Chinese on the date and location of a new round of negotiations.
Among the agreements signed at the summit was a joint EU-China declaration on climate change.