Domestic political pressure on Bush scuppers hope of an agreement as key concerns remain unresolved The latest round of Sino-American textile talks in Beijing has ended without any agreement because of what some observers say is domestic political pressure on the United States government to raise barriers against cheap Chinese exports. Analysts were not optimistic. 'I believe there will be no agreement this year. The major reason is [President George] Bush's political problems,' said Hamilton Loeb, a partner at international law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. With a US congressional election due in November next year, Republican congressmen in textile-producing states were vulnerable, Mr Loeb said. 'Bush is better off politically by appearing to take a strong stance and unilaterally imposing safeguard quotas,' he said. Mr Bush will visit Beijing next month which some had hoped might encourage a resolution to the dispute before his arrival. But the mood has switched to concern that an agreement will not be brokered in time, which means China's textile industry might face unilateral trade restrictions by the US. A spokesman for China's foreign ministry was quoted as saying: 'What is important is that China and the US take a calm, objective and forward-looking attitude to resolve their problems.' The US National Council of Textile Organisations simultaneously issued a statement urging Washington to impose 10 'safeguard quotas' on Chinese textiles in the next few weeks, adding to nine existing quotas. It also petitioned for a safeguard quota on Chinese towels in a few months. The lobby cited official figures showing US textile and apparel volumes imported from China are up 47 per cent since global textile quotas ended on January 1. To manage the huge growth of Chinese textile exports, the US and China have been trying to agree on mutual restrictions on specific Chinese textile exports over the next few years, similar to an agreement in June between China and the European Union. US special negotiator David Spooner said the US would continue to use its right under the terms of China's World Trade Organisation accession to impose safeguard quotas on specific textile products. The WTO safeguard mechanism lasts until 2008. But a major disagreement between the US and China was whether the US could continue to impose such safeguard quotas, said Peter Liu Sin-shing, chairman of the textile and apparel committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He said if the US unilaterally imposed quotas on Chinese textiles, the trade would suffer because their timing could not be predicted. Another disagreement is whether the Sino-US deal lasts until the end of 2007, as does the Sino-EU agreement, or until the end of 2008. David Birnbaum, an international garment consultant, said: 'I don't see a Sino-US textile agreement under the present US administration. Mr Bush's people make short-term commitments to single-issue constituencies like the steel industry. The textile lobby in the US is stronger than the EU.' Without a Sino-US textile agreement, Mr Birnbaum feared China might retaliate by granting less favourable terms to US technology exports such as Boeing aircraft. 'It would be terrible if the US sacrifices Boeing for bras,' he said.