EU and China Discuss Trade, Investment, Overcapacity
The EU and China held their sixth annual EU-China High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) in Brussels earlier in the month.
The meeting was co-chaired by Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, and Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai.
Participating commissioners and ministers discussed a range of strategic issues under the theme “Strengthening Policy Coordination, Promoting Sustainable Growth.” Topics included macro-economic challenges, global economic governance and ongoing reforms in China and the EU. Bilateral issues included negotiations on investment, questions related to overcapacity in the steel sector and how to manage bilateral trade frictions in compliance with WTO rules.
The EU is currently China’s biggest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second largest trading partner after the United States. Trade in goods between the EU and China is worth well over $1.6 billion a day, with EU exports amounting to $185 billion and imports to $382 billion in 2015.
The EU continues to be a top recipient of Chinese investment. Transactions could reach $29 billion in 2016, which would mean a growth of 33 percent year-on-year. EU Foreign Direct Investment to China continues to drop as it remains below $2.05 billion for the fourth quarter in a row.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Vice President Jyrki Katainen said, “I believe our exchanges today allow us to see the wider picture and provide an effective, cooperative response to current challenges in the EU, China, and globally. It is clear we share a commitment to strong, sustainable and balanced growth and our cooperation in all economic and trade issues will continue.”
Both sides followed up on the last summit’s agreement to establish a dedicated bilateral platform on steel and the global forum set up at the G20 summit in Hangzhou. A first meeting of the EU-China platform on steel overcapacity will take place shortly.
China has committed to make its steel industry more responsive to market forces, and to reduce its excess production capacity and to ensure that its policies and support do not target the net expansion of steel capacity. Vice President Katainen called on China to activate urgently all relevant policy tools to address the trade-related aspects of steel overcapacity.
Trade and Market access
The HED covered the need to see significantly improved market access for EU companies as well as a level playing field for business and investment. The EU handed over a list of the key concerns on market access and encouraged China to provide a list of their key concerns. The EU and China agreed to work together on addressing structural market access problems to ensure that the key barriers affecting both sides are eliminated. Both sides agreed to review progress at the Joint Committee on Trade in 2017.
The EU pushed to conclude negotiations on an agreement on geographical indications in the first half of 2017. The Chinese side reconfirmed its commitment to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible and both sides will meet shortly to that effect.