EU says China could open its economy if it wishes
China could open its economy if it wishes, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday in Beijing, as Beijing comes under growing pressure over its industrial policies amid an escalating trade war with Washington, Reuters reports.
Playing host to Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the need to uphold free trade and multilateralism as the United States and China become increasingly mired in a trade dispute, with no sign of negotiations on the horizon.
U.S. President Donald Trump has warned he may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - nearly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year – to combat what the U.S says are Beijing’s trade abuses.
China has sworn to retaliate at each step.
Long accused of protectionist tactics that make it a difficult place for foreign firms to operate, China is trying to reverse that narrative amid the escalating trade war by approving huge investments, such as a $10 billion petrochemicals project by Germany’s BASF (BASFn.DE).
Juncker, speaking at a joint news briefing with Li and Tusk at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, said that move showed “if China wishes to open up it can do so. It knows how to open up”.
Tusk called on China, the United States and other countries, to not start trade wars, and to reform the World Trade Organization so it is equipped to combat forced technology transfers and government subsidies, complaints underpinning Trump’s tariffs.
“We need new rules in the areas of industrial subsidies, intellectual property and forced technology transfers, the reduction of trade costs, as well as a new approach to development and more effective dispute settlement,” Tusk said.
“There is still time to prevent conflict and chaos.”
Critics of Beijing’s policies say foreign firms are competing with Chinese rivals backed by massive, market-distorting subsidies and government support, issues not sufficiently addressed under WTO rules.
Both China and Europe have stressed the need for trade differences to be addressed through the WTO, but the United States has said China’s unfair policies are too urgent and too big for the trade body to handle.