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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Monday, August 22, 2005

Don’t run out of Socks

“Freemarketeer” Mandy has singlehandedly created a crisis for retailers and in turn their customers all across Europe.
Tens of millions of garments, including sweaters, trousers and bras, destined for shops such as Marks & Spencer, H&M (Hennes and Mauritz) and Gap, have been impounded at British ports after officials in Brussels imposed strict import quotas to safeguard the European textile industry.
Of course, underemployed European textile workers will now be able to purchase the raw materials, agree the sales terms, cut and stitch the cloth and deliver it to the retailers within the next two weeks. No? Oh dear what’s to be done then. It’s not just a problem of not having clothes to sell. Textiles are perishable goods. What is not sold in season or during the sales is dumped.
The news is a disaster for fashion companies, who say they will not be able to write-off huge losses on their autumn collections, unless they are unblocked within the next few days.
Of course these protectionist measures are supposed to stop people losing their jobs.
"People are going to lose their jobs over this and businesses will go under. That is the nightmare scenario we are facing. The quotas were rushed in without any real thought."
At least in this case, the fact that more jobs are at risk than are being protected is visible for all to see. Often, politicians get away with this kind of action, because the losers are unaware of their losses. Here the stupidity is there for all to see. So who’s to blame for the mess?
The problem arose after restrictions on clothing imports from China were lifted by the European Community in January this year. After imports rocketed and European textile manufacturers complained, Peter Mandelson, the European Trade Commissioner, introduced quotas in June. Some of these quotas, however, were breached within a month, forcing officials across Europe to impound at least 59 million sweaters and 16 million pairs of men's trousers.
The EU, looking after the interests of powerful lobby groups as usual. You’re just a consumer, sod off. As the one and only Stephen Pollard puts it:
When EU farmers sell their produce abroad their prices are kept artificially low by agricultural subsidies. For example, the EU pays 2.7 billion euros a year to farmers to grow sugar beet, and then offloads the resulting surpluses on the world market, undercutting the developing world’s unsubsidised growers. And we refuse to let them export to us. Not only does EU protectionism keep the poor in poverty, it also denies us access to cheaper goods.
Support the EU for greater world inequality. You have nothing to lose but half your pay packet.

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