EU-China Trade Relations: Future Prospects for an Uneasy Partnership

Written by | Friday, September 15th, 2017

The European Union and China should get rid of persistent doubts on both sides and revamp their trade relations with a genuine partnership bereft of unfair competition and protectionism, a comprehensive report “EU-China Economic Relations to 2025 Building a Common Future” published by the Brussels-based Bruegel think tank, Chatham House, said.

The report further added that it was important for both sides to start playing a leadership role in the world trade especially due to the changes in the White House: “The two sides have the opportunity to deepen cooperation in virtually all areas, from infrastructure, energy and environment, to science, technology, financial services and global governance. In this way, the EU and China can help ensure that global development is stable, strong, balanced and sustainable”.

Brussels and Beijing have joined forces since President Donald Trump took office in an effort to find allies amid fears that their commitment to free global trade could be threatened by his “America First” policies. However, the EU remains cautious about China, whose massive steel exports combined with its militarization of islands in the South China Sea and a turn towards greater authoritarianism under President Xi Jinping are seen as potential threats.

Xi Jinping has defended globalization and painted a picture of China as a “wide open” economy but foreign business groups complain that Beijing keeps on discriminating against them by limiting their access to the huge Chinese market. China, on the other hand, is concerned that Brussels can impose policy measures against Chinese companies, such as anti-dumping and countervailing duties, and that the EU does not have enough time to spend on global trade due to its domestic agenda, such as Brexit.


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