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European business chamber seeks tougher stance on China



A leading industry group, BusinessEurope, has called on the European Union to take a tougher stance against unfair trade practices by China.

“What we want is a stronger and fairer trading relationship with China,’’ BusinessEurope chief Markus Beyrer said in Brussels on Thursday.

The issue has taken on urgency, he argued, as China has slowed down its market-oriented reform process and consolidated its state-led economy, while global trade rules are becoming increasingly hard to enforce.

China is the EU’s second most important trading partner, while the EU is the top destination for Chinese goods.

But Europe, along with the United States, has long criticised Beijing for providing large state subsidies and for other practices leading to market distortions.

The issue is at the heart of trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing that led to the signature this week of a partial trade deal aimed at easing tensions.

The EU also has been rethinking its approach on China, walking a tightrope between economic engagement and efforts to protect European competitiveness.

BusinessEurope presented a catalogue of 130 measures aimed at reducing trade barriers and creating a level playing field between Chinese and European companies.

A planned investment deal with China is urgently needed, Beyrer argued, noting that Beijing had only taken steps on paper to open its market for foreign investments.

At the same time, he said the EU must boost its research industry and improve competitiveness.

Germany will host a key EU summit with China later this year, when it takes over the rotating EU presidency.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel advised against regarding China as a threat simply because it is economically successful, in an interview with the Financial Times published on Thursday.

The rise of China is largely based on hard work, creativity and technical skills, she said.

“Do we in Germany and Europe want to dismantle all interconnected global supply chains because of this economic competition” she asked.

“In my opinion, complete isolation from China cannot be the answer.’’ she stressed.

Edited by: Halima Sheji/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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