EU will engage rather than confront China in trade, ambassador says

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The European Union will take “a different approach” than the U.S. when it comes to managing the trade relationship with China, the EU ambassador to China told CNBC on Friday.Ambassador Nicolas Chapuis emphasized, however, that the EU is “in the same boat” as the U.S. despite the divergence.”We think that policy of engagement, clarity, the possibility to strike smart deals, to take stock of China’s innovation policies and formidable economy of this country is of interest to us and engagement rather confrontation is the right path,” Chapuis told CNBC’s “Street Signs.”The ambassador said that the EU is working to deliver “a smart and sensible agreement” and that his staff will “take stock of the potential of economic, trade, political relationship between the EU and China.”The fact that trade tensions may be reduced, thanks to the U.S.-China deal is good news. On the other hand, managed trade, quantitative targets, bilateral deals, this is not what a global world needs.Nicolas ChapuisEU ambassador to ChinaEU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said on Thursday that the EU will be closely monitoring the newly signed “phase one” trade deal between Washington and Beijing, to ensure it complies with WTO rules.”As my commissioner said… we do not like bilateral arrangements in globalization. Of course, the U.S. is entitled to any deal it wishes with China. But if it is not WTO compatible, then we have an issue,” the ambassador said.The EU will monitor progress on the U.S.-China deal “extremely closely to see if our concerns on managed trade, on quantitative targets are valid or not,” said Chapuis. He said that he received a call from Chinese officials after the deal was signed that assured the EU “will not be impacted by the U.S.-China trade deal.”US-China trade deal’s global impactThe ambassador said, however, “The fact that trade tensions may be reduced, thanks to the U.S.-China deal is good news. On the other hand, managed trade, quantitative targets, bilateral deals, this is not what a global world needs.”He cautioned that the U.S.-China deal signed this week is only “an interim agreement” and that he will need to wait to see if there will be a “phase two” or not.”So we’ll see by the end of 2020 where we stand and, on this basis, we will decide what we do,” said Chapuis.Nonetheless, he said he is optimistic on how the deal addresses intellectual property right issues, adding that China has made strides in the right direction. Chapuis said these steps will benefit China’s other trading partners as well, not just the U.S.”We’ve been engaged with Chinese IP agencies over the last few years in a very strong cooperation. And what we see on the ground, in the courts, is amazing progress in taking up new IP cases. I think China is on track, and what is written in the U.S.-China deal reflects this positive track,” he said.Chapuis said he also hopes to “see a breakthrough” in China cooperating in rewriting the WTO standards regarding industry subsidies, e-commerce, and technology transfers. Doing so would mean the WTO rule book will be rewritten in a way to accommodate the Chinese economy because it has an enormous impact on the global economy.

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