China is aiming for textile exports of US$55 billion in 2002 the official China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday, to take advantage of new markets that are opening up following China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December.

China's textile industry is one of its main foreign currency earners, accounting for 20 per cent of the country's total exports last year with a value of US$53.28 billion. It earned a profit of 22.1 billion yuan (US$2.7 billion) last year, a year-on-year decrease of 11.6 per cent.

Zhang Li, deputy director of the Economic Operations Bureau of the State Economic and Trade Commission, said the industry hopes to make a 25 billion yuan (US$3 billion) profit this year.

Key to meeting these targets is an improvement in the international competitiveness of individual companies she said, adding: "The improvement efforts will be carried out via a strategy of "adjustment, innovation and upgrade."

Funds will be made available to help companies invest in new technologies that meet the requirements of the market.

Du Yuzhou, chairman of the China Textile Industry Association, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "For products whose quota restrictions are cancelled, enterprises should grab greater market shares but prevent vicious competition in export prices."

For products whose quota restrictions are not cancelled, enterprises should make full use of quotas and strive to open such non-quota markets as Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa he said.

Du said the industry should apply WTO regulations to protect the interests of the textile industry. "The departments concerned should train textile enterprises on international trade regulations and help them make good use of anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and protective measures to safeguard the interests of the textile industry," he said.