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EU to China: Don’t take us for suckers on trade

by editor

The European Union has to be able to protect itself “when its openness is abused,” the European Union’s Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in a speech in China on Saturday.

The EU remains committed to free and fair trade, but “‘fair’ is the key word here,” Dombrovskis said, speaking at the Bund Summit in Shanghai.

“We welcome global competition. But it must be conducted fairly,” the senior EU official explained.

His comments come shortly after the European Commission said it would probe Chinese electric vehicles as the Asian country’s car exports explode. China is the EU’s largest trade partner, and a key supplier across a range of sectors from rare earth materials, to renewable energy equipment, or medicinal ingredients.

The trade commissioner’s speech touched on the global economic situation as it has evolved since the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The world, said Dombrovskis, had moved toward a new model that puts an emphasis on resilience against possible future shocks.

“In almost every sector, arena and debate forum, we are seeing — and reading — what seems to be a whole new vocabulary: onshoring, re-shoring, near-shoring, friend-shoring, decoupling, de-globalization,” he said.

While saying “the EU has no intention of decoupling from China,” Dombrovskis confirmed that Brussels has adopted a strategy of de-risking, which he said meant minimizing “strategic dependences and vulnerabilities.” China’s government has expressed hostility towards de-risking, as a step backwards from globalized trade.

He ended his speech by calling on China to take action to alleviate the debt burden of developing countries that have been battered by recent interest rate hikes.

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