Formal Sino-US talks will open in Beijing today, sources say Beijing and Washington will kick off formal talks today to resolve their dispute over the mainland's booming textile exports to the US, sources say. James Leonard, a deputy assistant secretary from the US Department of Commerce, will lead the talks for the American side. His Chinese counterparts will be headed by Gao Hucheng , the chief trade negotiation representative with the Ministry of Commerce. Mr Leonard and his delegation will arrive in Beijing today. The vice-ministerial-level talks will be the first formal encounter between the two nations since the US imposed emergency curbs on seven categories of Chinese textile and apparel exports last month aimed at limiting the growth of imports to 7.5 per cent a year. The US procedures allow a 30-day public consultation period before the administration reaches a decision in another 15 days. Failure to clinch a deal before the deadline would mean that curbs would stay until the end of the year. The curbs involve goods with an annual trade value of US$2.2 billion. Imports of cotton knit shirts and blouses, included in quotas imposed on May 13, have jumped by 263 per cent and 511 per cent. Mr Leonard is also the chairman of the US Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), an interagency group that made the decision to place quotas on Chinese exports. Sources said that the formal talks, following a video conference last Friday, were aimed at reaching an agreement on the textile row before the high-level annual Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade met in Beijing in the middle of next month. The two sides also agreed to take the recent Sino-European Union pact on textile issues as a reference point for their upcoming talks, sources said. Mr Leonard accompanied US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez on his visit to China early this month. As CITA chairman, he held talks with officials from the China Chamber of Commerce during the trip, said chamber vice-chairman Cao Xinyu . Confirming the upcoming talks, another industry official said the consensus to apply the Sino-EU pact to Sino-US talks would put the Chinese side at a disadvantage. 'The base figures for Chinese exports of seven textile categories under US restrictive measures were very low, and to cap an annual growth rate of between 8 to 12.5 per cent on such a base is unfair to Chinese manufacturers,' said Zhang Xian , the chamber's deputy secretary-general. However, Mr Zhang and Mr Cao were cautiously optimistic about reaching a deal before mid-July. 'Ideally both sides will reach an agreement before the annual Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade as both nations have broader interests in trade and commerce co-operation,' Mr Zhang said. He added that Washington was using the 'small' textile issue to explore the possibility of achieving progress on more pressing concerns such as America's rapidly growing trade deficit and the value of the Chinese currency. This week, the Ministry of Commerce announced plans to launch a new quota system to check the mainland's booming exports of textiles. Beijing cancelled export quotas at the start of January as part of a global move to end textile quotas. But surges in textile and clothing exports upset the EU and the US.