updated 8/31/2005 9:06:53 AM ET 2005-08-31T13:06:53

U.S.-Chinese talks failed to settle a dispute Wednesday over American efforts to rein in Chinese textile imports, leaving little hope of a deal before President Hu Jintao visits Washington next week.

“It appears that it’s over this week, and no agreement has been reached,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, who was in Beijing.

The U.S. delegation was scheduled to leave Thursday, meaning “there’s a 99.9 percent chance there will be no more talks this week,” Tantillo said. The talks began Tuesday.

Chinese shipments of sweaters, pants and other low-cost clothing have soared since a worldwide quota system expired on Jan. 1. Washington has already imposed temporary quotas limiting growth in imports of some Chinese textiles to 7.5 percent a year, but U.S. clothing manufacturers want broader limits.

China’s government-run media lashed out Wednesday at U.S. efforts as negotiators from the two sides met to try to settle the dispute.

“Trade protectionism has incurred huge costs for Chinese textile producers,” the government’s China Daily newspaper said in its lead editorial. “Protectionism is a loss-loss deal for both sides in international trade while undermining the global effort to build a free and fair trade order.”

Beijing argues that developed countries like the United States should focus on high-tech, big-money goods like airplanes and not try to stymie Chinese production of low-cost items like socks and underwear.

It also says that limits on Chinese goods would force U.S. consumers to pay more for clothing.

U.S. clothing manufacturers say the flood of cheap Chinese goods since the beginning of this year have forced 19 U.S. plants to close and resulted in 26,000 lost jobs.

If no agreement is reached, U.S. manufacturers will continue to rely on the safeguard system which allows them to petition the U.S. government on a case-by-case basis for limits if imports are seen to be threatening American industry, Tantillo said.

The dispute is politically sensitive at a time of soaring U.S. trade deficits with China, which last year hit $162 billion — an all-time record high with any country.

Hu is to meet U.S. President George W. Bush on Sept. 7 in Washington.

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