Textile and clothing importers in the European Union (EU) will look closely at negotiations authorised this week by the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers to revise the EU's textile and clothing trade agreement with Belarus.

This has long been renewed annually, but Belarus export quotas have changed little in recent years, because of cool relations between Brussels and Minsk over human rights.

But a much-publicised falling out between Belarus and Russia and some democratisation reforms in Belarus have raised the chance this year's renegotiation may substantially liberalise the deal.

Speaking in June in Belarus, EU external relations Commission Benita Ferrero-Waldner said further improvements "could also mean closer trade relations…"

By Keith Nuthall.