The EU has reached an agreement with China to allow millions of the latter's clothing imports onto its shores after they were stuck in transit because they filled their 2005 quotas, according to EU Commission spokeswoman Francoise Le Bail.

Le Bail said: "I would like to confirm that Chinese and European negotiators have managed to reach an agreement on the textiles that were stopped in customs".

The deal was "equitable", Le Bail said, and will involve Europe relaxing the quotas to allow in half of the surplus goods, while the other half will be taken away from 2006 quotas or other textiles' quotas.

China agreed in June to limit ten categories of clothing and textiles exports to 8-12 per cent annually after shipments of the goods escalated when global quotas ended in January.

However, the quotas began to be filled early on in the year, with about 47 million jumpers, 18m pairs of trousers and 12m bras stuck in ports around the EU by the start of this week.