10th Dec 2018

EU to warn China on trade surplus

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson is due to warn Chinese officials about the "intolerable" trend of the country's rising exports to Europe, which is creating pressure for new protectionist measures to be introduced by Brussels.

Mr Mandelson is meeting his Chinese counterpart Bo Xilai on Tuesday (11 June), following fresh reports suggesting China's global trade surplus this May had grown by 73 percent compared to the same period last year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Trade relations between Europe and China are at "crossroads", suggests Peter Mandelson (Photo: wikipedia)

Speaking to journalists ahead of the visit, Mr Mandelson said that the EU's trade deficit with China is growing at €15 million an hour and it could jump from €128 billion in 2006 to €170 billion this year, which he argued was "neither tolerable nor inevitable."

"I am not yet satisfied that the Chinese have grasped the scale of the problem," he said, adding that the relations between the two powers were "at a crossroads" and that "many in Europe are simply running out of patience, and pressure is going to grow."

"Of course we benefit from the lower cost of many competitively-priced Chinese exports, but we also know that in goods and services Europe has much to offer China and our full export potential is being hampered in the Chinese market," Mr Mandelson said, according to UK newspapers.

He warned that the EU could use some "trade defence instruments" or make complaints at the World Trade Organisation.

While the US is pressing for a revaluation of the Chinese yuan to slow down the speed of the exports giant, there are calls for anti-dumping measures in steel and textile industries in the EU.

Mr Mandelson has been previously criticised in some European quarters for taking a soft approach towards Beijing but on Monday he signalled a change of course in Brussels as China did not follow the fair trade balance principles it had signed up to during talks with the EU last year.

According to the European Commission's estimates, the bloc loses €20 billion in trade opportunities each year due to Chinese market access barriers.

Brussels also criticises Beijing for its persistent reluctance to tackle the protection of European intellectual property rights, with 80 percent of counterfeit products caught up at EU borders last year originating from China.

Fears over China's R&D catch-up

Meanwhile, the EU is also increasingly on alert over China's rising potential to invest in research and development (R&D).

According to a new report presented by the EU research commissioner Janez Potocnik, Beijing is just two years away from catching up with the bloc on R&D spending and on the path to overtake both the EU and US in exports of technology products.

"It is obvious that on the level of R&D financing, what we are doing is not having a lot of influence," said the research commissioner.

He added that while the "old" EU countries are moving ahead, with Sweden and Finland already spending more than the bloc's goal of 3 percent of GDP, some of the new member states, such as Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia, are seriously lagging behind.

Greens boycott EU-Morocco vote after lobbying expose

EUobserver has exposed Moroccan lobbying at the European Parliament, prompting a probe to be launched against several MEPs. The Greens have now decided to boycott next week's Morocco trade vote in protest, saying the lobbying investigation must be finished first.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium left with minority government after UN migration pact row
  2. EU court: UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50
  3. UK remains largest arms producer in western Europe
  4. Macron to address French nation in bid to calm tension
  5. Socialists confirm Timmermans as Spitzenkandidat
  6. France to investigate Kremlin influence on 'Yellow Vest' riots
  7. Air passenger transport in EU reaches record high
  8. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wins CDU leadership election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. France and Germany back Dutch on human rights sanctions
  2. COP24: vital to keep big polluters away from climate policy
  3. EU foot-dragging puts rule of law at risk in Hungary, Poland
  4. Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle
  5. Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week
  6. Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact
  7. EU Commission spins half-truth on 'unsafe' refugee boats
  8. COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us