Not content with causing total chaos over Chinese quotas for trousers and sweaters, the EU is now to add a further twist to the saga, taking it into really dangerous territory.
European clothing retailers are now reporting that their quota of Chinese-made women's blouses hit an EU import ceiling yesterday, with nearly 24.8 million of the garments having been cleared for entry into the EU as of last night.
Furthermore, data from an EU imports database show that two further categories — including T-shirts and brassieres — are also close to reaching 100 per cent of their 2005 quotas. Possibly, Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson doesn't know what a bra is, but the lad is definitely on the rack on this one – which is more than you can say for the clothing – and he is struggling to find a way of bringing forward some of 2006 quotas for use this year.
One thing he seems unable to do, however, is relax the system all together, even though four government ministers, from the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have written an article in the Financial Times saying there is a risk of job losses and bankruptcies unless the quota restrictions are eased.
Anyhow, unless he gets his skates on, he is going to become very familiar with the term "big girls' blouse" and, unfamiliar though he may be with the female form, even he must know it ain't a garment.