The Hong Kong Textile Council will ask Beijing to allow businesses to trade export quotas for garments restricted by annual import limits imposed by the European Union. The council and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce would submit a joint petition to Beijing within 10 days, council vice-chairman Lin Sun-mo said. Even if the central government agreed, it would be at least two months before any policy changes could take effect, Mr Lin said. 'Many Hong Kong textile manufacturers may be stuck with no quota for the rest of this year,' he said. Trading and auctioning of quotas, common under the old quota system that expired on January 1, are now forbidden under Ministry of Commerce regulations. Under an arrangement worked out with the EU last month, the Chinese government agreed to limit exports to Europe of 10 textile categories from June 11 until the end of 2008. The Ministry of Commerce will allocate quotas to exporters for the restricted items over the period. At a seminar yesterday attended by about 400 guests, Hong Kong and mainland textiles executives voiced their concerns at being unable to obtain enough quota to meet orders this year. Three officials from the Ministry of Commerce spoke at the seminar, including Sun Jiwen, a deputy director. 'The central government officials were sympathetic to our concerns but said this was a universal complaint by textiles firms on the mainland,' said council chief executive Eden Woon Yi-teng. The officials said the Sino-EU agreement would stabilise the trading system, whereas a prolonged conflict with the EU would be even worse for business, Mr Woon said. The officials asked attendees to submit their suggestions and complaints to the ministry and various business chambers. The authorities might adopt some of their suggestions when forming future trade policy and in the continuing textiles trade negotiations between China and the US, he said.