China, EU Vow to Fight Protectionism Together
China and the EU announced Monday that they are uniting to fight trade protectionism to ensure the world economy remains an open one, as the two sides seek to strengthen relations amid intensified trade tensions with the U.S.
“The two sides are strongly committed to fostering an open world economy, improving trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, resisting protectionism and unilateralism, and making globalisation more open, balanced, inclusive, and beneficial to all,” they said in a joint statement.
The announcement was released after a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Beijing at the 20th EU-China Summit.
China and the EU are embroiled in escalating trade disputes with the U.S., which has imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese and European products as U.S. President Donald Trump pushes his “America First” policies. Beijing and Brussels both have responded with tit-for-tat retaliatory taxes on U.S. goods.
The EU has lowered its forecast for growth in the 19-country eurozone this year to 2.1% from 2.3% previously, citing trade tensions with the U.S. as one of the top causes. Meanwhile, some analysts have warned that if implemented, Trump’s latest threat to apply additional tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods could slow China’s annual expansion by 0.3-0.5 percentage points.
In the joint statement, China and the EU said they will cooperate on reform of the World Trade Organization, which is at the core of the multilateral trading system they support, and set up a joint working group on the issue that is to be headed by vice-ministerial-level officials.
The EU “took note” of China’s recent commitments to improving market access and the investment environment, strengthening intellectual property rights and expanding imports, and “looks forward to their full implementation as well as further measures,” it said.
The two sides will “continue to forge synergies” between China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to strengthen trade ties with countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, primarily through infrastructure investment and construction; and the EU’s projects, such as the EU Investment Plan and extended Trans-European Transport Networks, according to the statement. It added that agreements were signed for the establishment of a China-EU co-investment fund, and that its first project has been launched.
The two sides will prioritize negotiations that have been going on since November 2013 on an investment agreement, promising to accelerate discussions of both the joint text and the market-access offers. They also agreed to reinforce efforts to fight infringements of intellectual property rights.
Contact reporters Fran Wang (fangwang@caixin) and Lin Jinbing (email@example.com)
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