European retailers are looking forward to the end of a logjam of Chinese clothing imports this week but warn that a new "disaster" could already be on way, threatening further EU-China strains.
The European Union hopes that by the middle of the week it can start releasing millions of bras, trousers and other cheap Chinese-made clothes blocked at European ports for weeks in a row over import quotas.
EU trade chief Peter Mandelson secured a deal in Beijing last week to end the huge blockage, which built up after an initial June quota accord with Beijing led to a rush of orders from European retailers. But the Foreign Trade Association, a Brussels-based group representing European retailers, warns that import strategies for next year "have to be planned carefully to avoid a new disaster in 2006."
Mandelson "is claiming that there won't be a problem next year .. but we think there could definitely be a problem," FTA spokesman Stuart Newman told AFP. "It all depends on how quickly our importers can react to the new quotas."
In the meantime for EU retailers everything depends on how things pan out in the months to come, the China Daily reports.