Monday

15th Oct 2018

Focus

EU ready to help China fight protectionsim

  • The EU trade commissioner welcomed China's support for globalisation and free trade, but said it must be backed up by action (Photo: European Commission)

The EU is ready to stand with China in the fight against protectionism, but Beijing needs to reform to be fair to investors, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said on Monday (7 February).

"If others around the world want to use trade as a weapon, I want to use it as a tonic; a vital ingredient for prosperity and progress," she said without mentioning US president Donald Trump by name, who has been promoting protectionist policies.

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

"If rising protectionism from elsewhere is a threat to the Chinese economy, we stand ready to engage and fight against it together. If others are closing their doors, ours are still open. As long as the trade is fair," she told a business conference on EU-China relations in Brussels.

Malmstroem commended Chinese president Xi Jinping's speech at the World Economic Forum last month, where the Chinese leader stood up for globalisation and multilateralism.

However, the trade commissioner added that China needed to back up rhetoric with reforms.

"That would really indicate taking a stronger role in the world," she added.

Malmstroem said that "many barriers and irritants" remained in the EU-China trade relations, which were "far from balanced".

She highlighted that reform plans announced four years ago to give the market a more decisive role in the economy and reinforce the rule of law and independence of the judiciary have not materialised.

Malmstroem added the European investors were increasingly concerned about "the deteriorating situation on the freedom of expression and association".

After the US, China is the EU's second biggest trading partner, and the EU is China's largest.

Trade with China was worth one fifth of EU imported goods but only one tenth of its goods exports.

Chinese investment flows into the EU rose to a record high of almost €40 billion last year, while EU investment into China fell to a 10-year low of less than €8 billion.

Malmstroem said she hoped the issue could be addressed with an EU-China investment agreement now under negotiation.

She said she hoped the EU could see a "new impulse" in talks this year.

The deal would mean better market access for European investors, a level playing filed "without discriminations based on origin or ownership", and "greater certainty, transparency, fairness".

She stressed that the European Commission had recently proposed measures that would reinforce EU trade defence tools, among them possible higher tariffs, faster investigations against China, but negotiations are ongoing on that between member states and the European Parliament.

These instruments are aimed at reducing the damage Chinese overcapacity in steel has caused to European businesses.

Last month, Malmstroem lashed out against Trump, saying that new efforts to reimpose trade barriers were "doomed to fail" after the US president withdrew from the TPP agreement, a free trade deal between 11 Pacific region countries.

TTIP's future in Trump's hands

EU commissioners admit they "frankly don't know" what the US president-elect intends to do with the US-EU trade talks.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit Britain cannot rely on Trump's trade vows

Theresa May came away from her meeting with Donald Trump bearing the promise of a future UK-US trade pact. The pledge was rich in symbolism, but not much else.

Magazine

Trade: Is Europe still open for business?

EU trade policy has become a target for environmentalists, transparency advocates and populists alike, casting a doubt whether Europe can still close trade deals.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen warms towards cooperation with Bannon
  2. Bettel set to stay in power in Luxembourg after election
  3. EU-UK Brexit deal talks paused
  4. Macedonian parliament to vote on name change Monday
  5. Swedish opposition leader gives up on forming government
  6. Commission confirms: no record of Juncker speech seminar
  7. Ukraine splits from Russian orthodox church
  8. Polish doctor wins landmark pro-life case in Norway

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it
  2. Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive
  3. It's time for the EU to stand up to transnational corporations
  4. Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money
  5. 'Macron vs Orban' is no quick fix for EU democracy
  6. Brexit and sanctions at EU summit This WEEK
  7. EU looks at Morocco and Tunisia to offload migrants
  8. EU urged to seize assets of foreign hackers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us