Bra Wars Is Ended with a Compromise
Byline: BENEDICT BROGAN
PETER Mandelson has been forced to tear up his deal on Chinese clothes imports that started the 'bra wars' barely three months after signing it.
The European trade commissioner spared Tony Blair further embarrassment by agreeing a compromise that will allow more than 80 million T-shirts, jumpers and other items into the shops within weeks.
Today he will call on France and Italy to drop their protectionist ways which are disrupting negotiations with China.
Early yesterday morning he emerged from talks in Beijing hailing an end to the summer 'bra wars' that have left the EU's credibility on trade in tatters and his political reputation severely damaged.
A scramble to achieve a breakthrough ahead of yesterday's EUChina summit allowed the Prime Minister to put a positive gloss on relations between Europe and the world's fastest-growing economy.
He was desperate to ensure that the row over blocked clothes imports did not overshadow agreements for new British contracts worth up to [pounds sterling]2billion that were supposed to be the main event of his two-day visit.
While Mr Mandelson was hastily summoned from his front seat at the summit ceremony to hammer out last-minute glitches, Mr Blair insisted 'disagreements' over textiles would not harm wider trade relations. As the current president of the EU, Mr Blair was in the awkward position of arguing for free trade personally but speaking on behalf of other European countries steadfastly against greater openness. …