While leaders from the EU and US met in Brussels on Friday (1 June) to try to revive the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Doha Round negotiations, the head of one of Europe's trade associations expressed his concern that talks should also focus on improving market access for the EU's textile and apparel industry.

Speaking at an open session of the Euratex General Assembly, Mr Michele Tronconi, president of European textile association Euratex, said the EU doesn't appear to be thinking about "substantial tariff reductions of our own" and has no "real expectation of improved market access where potential overseas markets are concerned."

He told an audience which included representatives of the EU Commission and European Parliament that Euratex has consistently sought access for European textile and apparel exporters to closed third markets through tariff reductions to levels below 15%, and through the elimination of non-tariff barriers.
 
"Under the above circumstances we prefer no deal at all to a bad deal," Tronconi added.
 
The Doha round, launched by the WTO in November 2001, ground to a halt last summer after the US and the EU failed to agree on liberalising world farm trade. Disagreements with India and Brazil over high industrial tariffs also soured the negotiations.

WTO trade chief Pascal Lamy has been trying to get the discussions back on track since February this year.

Friday's meeting was part of a flurry of preparatory talks between key WTO members before a meeting on 19-22 June which is seen as decisive for the fate of the Doha trade talks.

In 2006 the EU-27 textile and apparel industry employed close to 2.6m workers, and had a turnover of EUR205bn. Exports at EUR39bn grew by 8% compared to the previous year and accounted for close to 20% of turnover.