Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

Focus

MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade

  • MEPs raised worries about China's respect for intellectual property rights, steel overcapacity and opening up of its domestic market (Photo: Frans Berkelaar)

EU and China cannot do without each other but still cannot trust each other. The paradox of their relationship was clear on Monday (23 April), when the European Parliament international trade committee exchanged views with Beijing's new EU ambassador, Zhang Ming.

"We should really look to stabilise our relations," said the committee's chair, German social democrat MEP Bernd Lange, referring to the global context where protectionism seems to be on the rise and the rules-based trading system under threat.

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

But in a draft opinion that is part of a wider upcoming parliament report on EU-China relations, the trade committee has already pointed out issues that hamper smooth economic relations between the pair.

MEPs have called on China to "further open up the Chinese market to foreign investors, strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights and level the playing field by making China's market more transparent and better regulated."

They also expressed "concern about industrial overcapacity in China's steel sector" and called for "further reciprocity in market access."

"We have to be sincere enough to debate frankly," the opinion's rapporteur, Romanian centre-right MEP Iuliu Winkler told the China's envoy on Monday.

"We are very open to discussing the issues" mentioned in the opinion, ambassador Zhang Ming told the MEPs, in his first public appearance in an EU institution.

He insisted that with $600bn of trade in goods, over $100bn in trade of services and a stock of investment of nearly $200bn, EU-China economic and trade relations are "by nature mutually beneficial."

The ambassador argued that issues raised by the MEPs "take up a very small part of our overall cooperation" and that "to solve problems we must look ahead, not look back."

In the wake of US president Donald Trump's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium, MEPs insisted on EU demands that China reduces its overcapacity in the sector.

Ming said the issue was "global challenge" that was "not specific to China alone" and pointed out that the country had already lowered its steel production by over 115 million tons and had to find another job for hundreds of thousands of sector workers.

He also assured MEPs that negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement with the EU were a "priority" for China and that the government was "already taking actions".

"Direction is more important than speed," he told MEPs.


"We welcome engagements," Winkler answered the ambassador, adding that they were "very important" and "sounding very promising".

Opinion

Trump tariffs: Europe - we have a problem

A looming trade war threatens to de-stabilise the Eurozone. Europe urgently needs to push its own agenda. Here are three suggestions.

Analysis

Beyond US dispute, EU still aiming at China

On the day it outlined its reaction to US tariffs on steel and aluminium, the EU commission also launched a case against China on property rights - an issue on which EU and US are working hand-in-hand.

News in Brief

  1. Blow for May as third vote on Brexit deal ruled out
  2. Three killed in possible 'terror' gun attack in Utrecht
  3. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  4. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  5. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  6. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  7. European woman older when having first baby
  8. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us