Hopes that the slight defrost in the habitually deep frozen diplomatic relations between Belarus and the European Union (EU) could have translated into a more liberal textile and clothing trading relationship have been dashed.

Although Minsk has gained some small influence in Brussels by becoming an ally in attempts to make Russian energy policy less aggressive, this improvement in relations has not been reflected in the latest clothing and textiles trade deal negotiated for 2008. 

The new deal only marginally increases mutual market access beyond the 2007 agreement, and Belarus also refused EU proposals that the 2008 deal would last for longer than one year - so it will have to be renegotiated again next autumn.

The 2008 agreement covers a34 textile and clothing goods categories - including woven cotton fabric, knitted or crocheted of woven cotton fabric, knitted or crocheted shirts, T-shirts, polo-neck jumpers and under-vests; knitted or crocheted jerseys, pullovers, waistcoats, cardigans and others. 

A European Commission note said: "The proposal provides for…moderate adjustments in some quantitative limits". Its terms will have to be formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers.

By Keith Nuthall.