Hong Kong and United States trade officials meet today in a bid to reach agreement on monitoring quotas and rules of origin for textile and clothing exports. Senior Hong Kong Trade Department officials are expected to spend two days in talks with representatives from five US government agencies, including Customs and State Departments. Textiles and clothing remain the territory's biggest domestic exports, despite the accelerating transition to a services-based economy. US customs officials are planning to reverse the traditional method of calculating quotas for textiles and clothing by making their own assessments, rather than by using the territory's figures. Hong Kong has been the only major textile supplier to the United States that was exempt from the scrutiny of US customs, and territory officials claim there is no to change the system. A spokesman for the Hong Kong Trade Department said: 'We think that it is such a well-established practice that there is no reason for change. Also, there is nothing in the World Trade Organisation agreement stipulating that it should be changed. 'United States officials have given various reasons for the change,' he said. 'One is that they want to apply a uniform system. But the question is, why now?' There are worries that problems will arise because of the potential for discrepancies between the respective trade departments' figures. 'If there are two sets of data there is a question of matching the data. There is the risk the US thinks a particular category has been filled there could be an embargo if the figures do not match.' Rebecca Lai, deputy director-general for the Trade Department, said officials had spotted differences when reviewing both departments' figures. Officials also will be discussing changes to the rules of origin for textiles and apparel. At present, the place where a garment is cut qualifies as its place of origin. But from July 1, the place where the goods are assembled will be designated as the origin for textile imports. China's cheap and abundant labour force has resulted in manufacturers from Hong Kong setting up manufacturing operations there. The new rules could result in China's quotas rapidly being used up. Trade officials will be seeking clarification on what impact the proposed regulations will have on manufacturers. A spokesman said US officials so far had not been able to provide detailed answers and it was not known which garments would be affected and to what extent.