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2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 27 E/19

(2000/C 27 E/020) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0513/99

by Sérgio Ribeiro (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(8 March 1999)

Subject: Trade agreement with the Republic of South Africa in the textile and clothing sector

Representatives of the textiles and clothing sector claim that under the trade agreement with South Africa
a reduction or even abolition of the customs charges for various categories of textile and clothing products
is being negotiated. This liberalisation would be lop-sided, with greater openness on the part of the
Community market.

The sector continues to play an important role in the economy of the European Union as a whole,
representing for over 4 % of GVA in 1996 and almost 8 % of jobs in the processing industry; in certain EU
countries and regions, its economic and social importance is very considerable.

The sector has been going through a very difficult period, with the loss of 600 000 jobs between 1990
and 1996, and there are forecasts that this trend will continue, with a further 800 000 jobs being lost in
the next few years. This situation and these forecasts are the result of over-increasing trade liberalisation,
particularly by means of bilateral accords (such as that with Turkey) and the entry into force of the final
phase of VAT and the opening up of the market, since 1 January 1998, to the candidate countries for EU

This process has placed the sector under major competitive pressure, and it is not unfrequently used as a
‘bargaining counter’ in certain global negotiations. Moreover, it has been one of the sectors worst hit, if
not in fact the worst hit, by the so-called ‘Asian crisis’.

Is the information concerning the agreement with South Africa true? What categories of textile and
clothing products are covered by the negotiations? What undertakings are being given with regard to
reducing or abolishing customs duties? What is the timetable for the dismantling of customs tariffs, and
what are the compensations?

(2000/C 27 E/021) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0514/99

by Sérgio Ribeiro (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(8 March 1999)

Subject: Trade agreement with the Republic of South Africa in the textile and clothing sector

A trade agreement with South Africa which may include clauses concerning the textile and clothing sector,
is currently under negotiation. Following my previous question about these negotiations and their terms,
I would now ask the Commission what precautions it is taking with regard to protecting European labels
and fighting counterfeits, and what internal compensation mechanisms it intends to mobilise to deal with
the foreseeable consequences of this agreement for the industry in Europe, particularly SMEs?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-0513/99 and E-0514/99
given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission

(7 May 1999)

The Commission has negotiated a trade, development and co-operation agreement with South Africa in
accordance with the negotiating directives it received from the Council on June 1995 and March 1996.
According to these last directives, the negotiations, in the trade field, were aimed at establishing a free
trade area (FTA) over a transitional period lasting, in principle, a maximum of 10 years and in accordance
with the World trade organisation (WTO) rules.