On Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that China might open its Economy if it so desired, with the European Union calling on countries to avoid a trade war, even as pressure on Beijing rises over its industrial policies.
Hosting Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang stressed the need to uphold free trade and multilateralism, as the United States and China are becoming increasingly mired in a trade dispute, with no sign of horizon negotiations.
US President Donald Trump warned that he could ultimately impose tariffs on Chinese goods worth more than $500 billion – almost the total amount of US imports from China last year – to combat what the US claims to be trade abuses in Beijing.
Long accused of protectionist tactics that make it difficult for foreign firms, China is trying to reverse this narrative amid the escalating trade war by approving huge investments, such as a $10 billion petrochemical project by the BASF (BASFn. DE) from Germany.
Speaking at a joint news briefing with Li and Tusk at the People’s Great Hall in Beijing, Juncker said that move showed “if China wants to open it can do so. They know how to begin. We need multilateral rules which are just and equitable. The EU is free and not naã¯ve.
Chinese companies are the key focus of EU anti-dumping and unfair subsidies initiatives, and last year the European Commission indicated that it would be permitted to scrutinize foreign investment in the face of increasing concern about Chinese acquisitions on the continent.
Tusk approached China, the United States and different nations, to not begin exchange wars, and to change the World Trade Organization, so it is prepared to battle constrained innovation moves and government endowments, grumblings supporting Trump’s duties.
“It is the basic obligation of Europe and China, yet also America and Russia, not to crush this request yet to improve it, not to begin exchange wars, which transformed into hot clashes so frequently in our history, however, to boldly and capably change the standards-based worldwide request,” Tusk said at a gathering with Li.
Both China and Europe have stressed the need to tackle trade differences through the WTO, but the US has said that China’s unfair policies are too urgent and too big for the trading body to handle.
The meeting between China and the EU produced a communiqué affirming both sides’ commitment to the multilateral trade system. After meetings in 2016 and 2017, the leaders failed to find enough consensus for such a joint statement.
The statement stated that Beijing and Brussels had submitted market access offers as part of investment treaty talks for the first time, adding that the exchange should open a “new phase” in the negotiations that both sides considered “top priority.”
“The EU has taken note of China’s recent commitments to boost market access and the business climate, safeguard intellectual property rights and increase imports, and looks forward to their full implementation and further action,” said the release.
European envoys say China’s sense of greater urgency since last year is finding like-minded countries willing to stand up to Trump’s “America First” policy.
China’s EU ambassador on Sunday wrote in Chinese state media that the annual meeting of Chinese-EU leaders would concentrate on how the two sides could become a “foundation of unity” amid the “din of unilateralism and protectionism”.
While sharing Trump’s concern about Chinese trade abuses, if not its tariff prescription, the EU has mostly rejected China’s efforts to put pressure on it against Trump to a strong stance.
There is deep scepticism in the EU about China’s commitment to further opening up its market, as well as concern that it seeks to divide the world’s largest trading bloc with its Eastern European economic influence.
Nevertheless, European officials say that Trump, who has also threatened Europe with tariffs, provided a window of opportunity to prove that ties between the EU and China can be a bulwark for global trade.