Premier Wen Jiabao On Tie-Strengthening Visit To EU

With the spiraling global financial crisis high on his agenda, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao will be spending a week in Europe starting with the World Economic Forum in Davis, Switzerland on 27-28 January. From there the Premier will travel to Germany, followed by a visit to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels, before heading for Spain and concluding his trip with a visit to Britain.

With the exception of Switzerland, the nations that Premier Wen will visit are all members of the 27-nation European Union. Trade between China and the EU has more than doubled since 2003, reaching in excess of €300 billion ($388 billion) in 2007. It is anticipated that the visit will strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the parties, which have become strained partially due to the growing EU trade deficit with China which climbed to a record €160 billion ($207 billion) in 2007 and had already reached €138.8 billion ($179 billion) by the end of October 2008.

The EU has frequently initiated anti-dumping actions against China, for goods ranging from shoes and clothing through to steel rods and fasteners. Dumping is a practice where the exporter supplies a product to another country at a price which is below that of the price charged in its domestic market, or is even below its cost of production. This is condemned, but not prohibited, by the World Trade Organization Agreement if it either causes, or threatens to cause, material injury to the importing country’s domestic industry.

Officials in Beijing have confirmed that Premier Wen, along with his delegation, which includes the commerce minister of China, will address issues relating to anti-dumping actions and barriers on Chinese goods. He will also be offering China’s assistance in efforts to raise the global economy out of its slump.

With China widely believed to be the world’s biggest culprit with regard to emissions, issues related to climate change are likely to be on the agenda for discussion. The EU has made public its goals to cut emissions to 20 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2020 and is urging China to make firm commitments in addressing its emission level.