The latest round of textile talks between China and the United States concluded Thursday with the two sides apparently further from resolution than ever.
The two nations have been negotiating an agreement on restricting Chinese textile imports into the United States since the dismantling of a global textile-quota system at the end of last year.
Both sides prefer to limit the growth of Chinese imports annually to inject some predictability into bilateral trade, rather than the United States continuing to impose sanctions against different categories of Chinese textiles.
People familiar with the talks said Thursday that the two sides failed to agree on what the growth rate should be for Chinese imports for 2007 and 2008, with Chinese negotiators holding out for roughly double the rates offered by the United States.
U.S. officials apparently had offered growth rates of between 10 and 14 percent for the period, which they felt were more generous than the terms agreed upon by China and the European Union in June, said a person familiar with the U.S. side of negotiations.
The Sino-European agreement imposed growth limits of 8 to 12.5 percent on imports of some Chinese textile and apparel items until 2007.
The United States had pushed for an agreement that would last until 2008, which is when China's trading partners can no longer invoke specific quotas against Chinese textile imports. Those safeguard quotas were a condition for China's entry into the World Trade Organization.
The negotiations concluded with no further talks scheduled.
The failure of the latest negotiations is likely to heighten bilateral trade tensions before of high-level economic meetings between the two nations starting this weekend.
"We have not come to an agreement that meets the needs of our domestic manufacturers and retailers," David Spooner, head of the U.S. textile negotiating team, said in a written statement.
People close to the Chinese side said the U.S. offer was formulated on base calculations that were too low. They declined to provide further details.
The United States imported $9.43 billion worth of textiles and apparel from China in the first seven months this year, up 46 percent from $6.47 billion for the same period a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department.
With no agreement in sight, U.S. officials said they will continue imposing safeguard quotas, which would cap at 7.5 percent the annual growth of specific categories of goods. The U.S. textile industry on Thursday filed a petition for safeguards on Chinese towels. Such restrictions make business unpredictable and expensive for U.S. retailers and their Chinese manufacturers.
Cui Rong in Beijing contributed to this report.