The European Commission has launched an open debate on the future of the world's textiles trade and is calling on members of the industry to share their thoughts and opinions on the changing face of the sector.

The debate, which is being hosted through an Internet forum, has been introduced in the run-up to a conference being staged by the EC in Brussels on 5-6 May 2003 on 'The Future of Textiles and Clothing Trade after 2005.'

"In less than two years we shall see the elimination of quota restrictions which have been a feature of world trade in textiles for 40 years," EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in a statement.

"The time is ripe for a fresh, open and thorough analysis of all aspects of textiles trade and we want to hear the views from all interested parties so that we can draw the right conclusions."

Interested parties are invited to discuss the likely impact of quota elimination on developing and industrialised countries; the impact of total quota elimination on sustainable development; the relevance of regional groupings and of tariff preferences in the context of further trade liberalisation under the WTO; and how to ensure fair and equitable trading conditions worldwide.

Conference participants will include trade and industry representatives, senior policy makers from governments and international organisations, trade unionists, and NGO and consumer representatives.

More details are available here.