Brussels Hosts Second China-EU Trade and Economic Talks

Relations between the European Union and China plunged in late 2008 when China cancelled the China-EU Summit in what many understood to be a response to French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama. However, with the current global economic crisis having a negative impact on trade for both parties, resolving differences is becoming more of a priority.

While the agenda for the summit is not public knowledge, it is likely that protectionist issues will feature. During 2008 more than thirty percent of anti-dumping actions undertaken by the EU were directed at China. However, in 2009 only two new anti-dumping investigations were directed at China, which could be an indication of leniency on the part of the EU ahead of what may turn out to be a fence-mending summit. In the latter part of 2008 China placed a series of bans on the import of food products from various EU member countries and this may also be addressed.

Serge Abou, the European Commission’s ambassador to China, has expressed the European Union’s hope that China will consider utilizing the Euro as a trade currency when making currency policies. It certainly appears that the Euro is fast gaining ground as an international trading currency, with some analysts even asking the question of whether the Euro will oust the US$ on the international scene, while others are of the opinion that it is no longer a matter of whether it will, but when it will do so. With regard to the current global economic crisis, Abou noted that European firms based in China have neither closed their operations, nor withdrawn from the market, but have found it necessary to adjust their investments.

On the downside, key members of the European Union, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom have reportedly not been actively involved in the preparation for the summit, and in light of the fact that they often compete for trade deals with China, this weakens the EU delegation’s position. How much will actually be achieved at the “High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue Mechanism” summit remains to be seen.