European governments are blocking attempts by the European Commission to allow imports of some Chinese textiles that have already exceeded agreed quotas - even though many of these goods are already in transit.

Trade officials representing the 25 EU nations dismissed EC suggestions that being more lenient would avoid the risk of retailers running out of stock.

They argue instead that any such move would backtrack on the headway that has been made in the textiles trade row between China and the EU.

Many European retailers, however, have been rallying governments to step down on their strict stance, amidst concern there will be a severe shortage of products such as pullovers and cardigans during the autumn and winter seasons.

France, Spain and Italy have all suggested that the EU should increase quotas to avoid this scenario.

Exports of certain items of Chinese textiles and clothing have surged since World Trade Organisation quotas ended in January, leading to widespread concern that other countries will see their industries suffer as a result.

As a result, the EU and China agreed that the latter would restrict shipments of certain items to a pre-defined amount.

It has already emerged, however, that China has reached its set allowance of 69 million units of jumpers, and on 19 July, The China Textile Import and Export Chamber warned companies that the country was in danger of filling its quotas prematurely.