Before Trump-Putin summit, Europe urges China and U.S

Andrew Cummings
July 16, 2018

After China retaliated, the US Trade Representative proposed an additional $200 billion in tariffs.

On 6 July, the United States imposed 25% tariffs on $34bn in Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to hit back with levies on the same amount of USA exports to China.

Premier Li Keqiang is hosting European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Beijing, where the two sides are expected to reinvigorate long-running investment treaty talks with the expected exchange of markets access offers for the first time.

The one-sentence announcement on Monday, from China's ministry of commerce, comes less than a week after the USA president called for a second round of tariffs on China, in retaliation for Chinese tariffs placed on American goods.

Mr Tusk urged the US, China and Russian Federation to work with the European Union to ease global trade tensions, saying that the worldwide order needed responsible reform.

Tusk appealed to governments to "brave and responsibly" reform the World Trade Organization, the global trade regulator, by updating its rules to address technology policy and state-owned industries - areas in which Beijing has conflicts with its trading partners.

Beijing has tried, so far without success, to recruit European support in its dispute with Washington. In fact, the European Union broadly agrees with the United States criticism of China, but not with its use of punitive tariffs to force change, according to two people with knowledge of the 28-member bloc's approach to the summit.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Monday that China and the European Union had agreed to take steps to "safeguard free trade" and the global multilateral regulatory system.

Leader of the BDI Joachim Lang, said: "The current escalation between the U.S. and China is worrying".

Tusk issued his appeal in opening remarks to an annual EU-China summit on Monday, as he made an explicit link between the European delegation visiting Beijing and the USA president's meeting later the same day in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking at a news conference, he said: "If China wishes to open up, it can do so".

On Thursday, prominent economist and former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman Stephen Roach told CNBC that Trump appears to be on track to lose in the trade war because the hugely dependent on China "for low-priced goods to make ends meet for American consumers".

The EU and China announced plans June 25 to form a group to work on updating WTO rules.

Annual summits between China and central and eastern European countries are beneficial to the European Union as a whole, the Chinese government told Bulgaria's foreign minister, brushing off concerns that Beijing is seeking to divide the continent.

"We see a China that is seeking alliances as countermeasures to the USA actions", the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Mats Harborn, said last week.

The EU and China have agreed to develop the EU-China strategic partnership at the 20th summit, which comes just hours after President Trump labelled both a "foe".

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