18th Mar 2018


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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.


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.


China-EU relations in the new era

A new type of international relations is needed to advance China-EU relations to a new level, says the Chinese ambassador to the EU.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere