China's top European trading partner, Germany, has demanded that the European Commission relax limits on exports of Chinese textiles and clothing.

The German government has backed retailers' concerns that quota restrictions will damage autumn and winter trading, as shops will not be able to fill their shelves.

Exports of sweaters and men's trousers have already exceeded their agreed amounts for 2005, causing the EU to block further shipments into its borders.

Bras and blouses are believed to be the next products to fill their quotas and become stopped during transit, with China using up 84 per cent and 89 per cent respectively of its allotted quotas for these goods so far.

Chinese trade officials are meeting US delegates this week to discuss a possible comprehensive set of quotas.