Caught Up in Tariff Crossfire: EU Torn Between US and China

Written by | Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
@Eubulletin

The European Commission is satisfied with the way trade talks with the United States are progressing. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, however, complained about “deteriorating” business climate in China. In a separate but related development, the White House has recently extended its tariffs on Chinese goods in response to Beijing’s technology and IT practices. China has been hit hard by Donald Trump’s latest trade moves.

If Washington and Beijing are to unleash a major trade dispute over steel and technology, it is likely going to impact Europe as well. The EU is negotiating with the White House to find a way to avoid the recently imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. At the same time, Brussels is also seeking to use this momentum with China and make a progress on an investment agreement to protect European companies in the Chinese market.

Commissioner Katainen, who covers jobs, growth and investment, said that the negotiations with the US are progressing well. “We have very good discussions,” he said. “The situation is calmer now that it was two weeks ago”, he commented. The progress in the talks doesn’t, however, mean that the Commission is sure that the EU will be granted a permanent exemption from the US tariffs.

Donald Trump offered a temporary waiver to European firms while both sides of the Atlantic are discussing “issues of common concern” in the field of trade. Yet, US President set a deadline for 1 May to sort out all outstanding trade disputes. Meanwhile, Brussels’ discussions with China to better the conditions that European companies face in the market have been stalled. The Commission said that European firms complain “all the time” about the business environment in China, which “has been deteriorating”.

 

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