The US government has agreed a new pact to restrict imports of Chinese socks, trade officals said yesterday.

Although talks between the two parties have yet to yield a comprehensive deal on limiting China's exports, discussions this week have made significant headway, according to officials.

US Committee for Implementation of Textile Agreements said it would extend safeguards on socks until 31 December to allow more time to come to a comprehensive deal.

The deal imposes a quota on imports of more than ten million pairs of cotton, wool and man-made fibre socks.

Trade official David Spooner said: "By re-imposing quotas on sock imports from China, the Administration is maintaining the status quo for our domestic sock manufacturers.

"It would simply be unfair to our sock producers if - in the midst of those negotiations - we permitted a safeguard to lapse" .

The US and China closed a fifth round of talks on Tuesday night aimed at finding an answer to China's surge in textile and clothing exports to the US after global quotas ended in January.

Spooner said the US hopes to come to a deal which covers imports of Chinese textiles and clothing from next year until 2008.