Trade and Industry Minister Ian Pearson yesterday revealed the depth of tensions between the UK and the EU on the Chinese textiles deal agreed by Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson last week.

The row saw 75 million Chinese made garments, ranging from bras to pullovers, stockpiled in customs warehouses at EU ports after Beijing exceeded 2005 textile import quotes.

And Mr Pearson doesn't want to see it happen again.

Speaking to a meeting of West Midlands Business Council held at the Birmingham office of accountants Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, he said the Department of Trade and Industry had been "reluctant" to support the agreement to unlock the goods.

"We believe in free trade," he said and slammed some other EU governments for failing to reform their own textile industries.

The UK industry had been faced with change and it had resulted in job losses.

He went on: "It gets up my nose when some countries in the EU suddenly decide, after failing to reform their industries, that they don't like the fact that European consumers are getting cheap access to Chinese textiles.

"They should have developed their industries."

And he warned such an outcome must not happen again. "We cannot have another regime of European protectionism and block imports of textiles in the future."

Questioned by a textile manufacturer at the meeting, who claimed the Government did not care about the sector, he insisted it had been encouraging UK industry "to move up the value chain".

In fact a lot of support had been given to firms to do just that.

"We have to accept we will not compete on low value-added goods," cautioned Mr Pearson.

"That is the right decision." The Dudley South MP urged the Black Country not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

He said: "Anyone who lives in the Black Country knows we have the worst transport infrastructure in the country."

Improvements were necessary, though he did not believe a Western Orbital was the answer.

Both Mr Pearson and Peter Mathews, president of the Midlands World Trade Forum, are just back from the trade mission to China and India.

Mr Mathews, managing director of Black Country Metals and a board member of Black Country Chamber's Dudley division, said: "This resulted in some good orders for British businesses and the establishment of useful contacts for the future. The delegation showed our hosts that we are serious about developing strong links with them."