EU worries that Chinese companies would be forced to buy more goods and services from US companies than European ones, under pact signed by China and USTop EU trade official's reaction to pact reflects its overall cautious reception from European officials and businesses
The European Union's top trade official on Thursday dismissed the new US-China deal as negative for competitiveness and jobs, underscoring the cautious reception the "phase one" pact has got from European officials and businesses.
"The devil is in the detail," EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan told a conference in London on Thursday, adding that so far, the details were "a bit sketchy". Hogan was speaking by video link from Washington where he is meeting US officials this week. He hopes to persuade the Trump administration not to impose punitive tariffs on the EU as President Donald Trump seeks a second term as US president this year.
The EU also worries that Chinese companies would be forced to buy more goods and services from American companies than European ones, under the partial trade agreement that Trump and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He signed on Wednesday in an attempt to halt the 18-month tariff battle between the world's two largest economies.
"Let's look at the detail of what that has actually achieved, we still have 20 per cent tariffs on both sides," Hogan said in another speech in Washington on Thursday. "This is not going to be good for competitiveness or jobs, which is a desired objective of President Trump."
"In the short term, it might work between now and November …(as a) politician, I understand the way it works," Hogan said, adding that the EU will assess whether the deal is compliant with World Trade Organisation rules.
One of Hogan's big tasks this year is to try to clinch an investment agreement with Beijing, although European officials and lawmakers have called on him and his team to ensure that China changes its processes to allow European companies to compete in the country on a level playing field.
The biggest EU business lobby group, BusinessEurope, on Thursday published a strategy paper on the EU's economic relationship with China, including 130 recommendations to authorities in the EU and its member states.
The group called on the EU to work to create a state of equality that would benefit foreign businesses in China, mitigate the impact of China's government-induced market distortions and reinforce the EU's own competitiveness in the country.
"There is today a renewed sense of urgency among the European business community: the systemic challenge posed by China's market-distorting practices cannot remain unaddressed," Markus Beyrer, director general of BusinessEurope, said.
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