The EU’s leading association of retailers – Foreign Trade Association (FTA) – traditionally seen as the main association of importers, is calling for a free trade agreement with China including giving China market economy status in EU anti-dumping legislation. The association has for long been a vocal critic of EU anti-dumping policy, calling for greater transparency and clearer limits to the practice.
The association published a statement on Thursday (21 April), saying that China is gaining importance as an export and investment destination for FTA members. The association already accounts for about 54 percent of its members’ non-food product imports. A recent study conducted by the Brussels-based CEPS think tank and the World Trade Institute argues that “an ambitious free trade agreement between the EU and China could have an estimated GDP impact of 1.87 percent on China and 0.76 percent on the EU by 2030. This would mean, in today’s terms, an additional €89 billion for China and €83 billion for the EU. Such a number would be like adding the GDP of a country like the Czech Republic to the economies of both partners.
The major obstacles between the EU and China, which the Foreign Trade Association would like to see solved – whether inside or outside a trade deal – are imbalanced management of Chinese product safety rules, unpredictable customs procedures and China’s “Buy Chinese” policy in public procurement. Moreover, the FTA would also like to see an action against the discrimination against foreign businesses in allocating prime real estate and granting operating licenses. The FTA is convinced that the conclusion of the ongoing bilateral investment trade negotiations between Brussels and Beijing is a “stepping stone to a free trade agreement”. However, some analysts think that such a deal can only be successful if China “walks the talk” on economic reforms including liberalization of investment and services.