Alexa

EU, China aim to launch trade dialogue in April amid tensions over gap

EU, China aim to launch trade dialogue in April amid tensions over gap

Europe and China aim to launch a high-level dialogue in April to ease trade tensions, the European Union's top trade official said Monday, and he called on Beijing to release more information about its government investment fund.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson also criticized Olympic boycott calls over Darfur as unwise and said they would hurt efforts to build ties with Beijing.
Mandelson met with China's new commerce minister, Chen Deming, and said the two sides were working toward launching a twice-yearly dialogue in April that would discuss Beijing's growing trade surplus and complaints about Chinese currency controls, product piracy and barriers to imports and investment.
"There is now a desire on China's part to listen more, to pay greater attention to the concerns that we have in Europe ... and, I hope, to take measures to even up and rebalance trade," Mandelson told the British Broadcasting Corp.
The United States and China launched a similar high-level dialogue on similar issues in 2006, led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi. The two sides meet twice a year, but have failed to produce dramatic breakthroughs to mollify American lawmakers who are pressing for punitive action against Beijing.
European Union leaders face political pressure over surging imports of low-cost Chinese shoes, toys and other goods that European companies say threaten thousands of jobs.
China's trade surplus with the 27-nation European Union widened in January to US$13.7 billion (euro9.3 billion), up 42 percent over the same month last year, according to the Chinese government.
The EU, along with the United States and Canada, won a ruling from a World Trade Organization panel Feb. 13 that Beijing was obstructing imports of auto parts in violation of its free-trading pledges by taxing them differently from Chinese-made parts.
European companies also complain Beijing is improperly favoring Chinese competitors by hampering foreign investment in finance and some other industries.
Mandelson met with the chairman of China's US$200 billion (euro136 billion) sovereign wealth fund, Lou Jiwei, and said he pressed for more information about the fund and for assurances its foreign investments will be commercially motivated and free of politics.
"We don't want to close our markets to Chinese investment, but we have to be reassured that it is commercially motivated," Mandelson told the BBC. "What I've said to him is two things: First of all, we need greater transparency, we need clear principles of governance being operated by these sovereign funds, but we also need reciprocity."
Mandelson rejected calls by some activists to boycott corporate sponsors of this summer's Beijing Olympics in order to pressure China's government to use its leverage with ally Sudan to end the bloodshed in its western province of Darfur.
Film director Steven Spielberg pulled out as an artistic adviser for the Games' opening ceremony, accusing China of not doing enough about Darfur.
"I do notice that following Steven Spielberg's decision, that I'm hearing and picking up more and hearing more debate about Darfur in the Chinese media and in Chinese circles than was the case before," Mandelson told the BBC.
"But I hope that will not lead people to encourage anything that amounts to a boycott of the Olympics in China," he said. "I think that would be unwise, disproportionate and counterproductive."
___
European Union: europa.eu