EU, China to Restart Trade Dialogue

The European Union and China will restart talks on a high level economic and trade dialogue on Tuesday amid tensions over several issues including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Xinjiang and an investment agreement waiting for ratification. The European commissioner for trade Dombrovskis and Chinese vice-premier Liu will co-chair the virtual meeting, which will also include representatives from the trade and economics ministries of both sides.

The dialogue will be virtual and will take place in the afternoon Beijing time on Tuesday.

The last round of such dialogue was in July 2020 and was also led by Dombrovskis and Liu.

The last high-level meeting between the EU and China was a virtual summit in April, but it ended unsuccessfully after the EU could not gain any guarantees from China that it would not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine financially or militarily. Both sides agreed to talk again to find concrete ways to progress on these issues before summer.

The EU had been pushing China to determine a date for the talks, but China took time responding. The slow response is believed to be related to Beijing trying to adjust to its new relationship with Brussels.

China has been trying to adjust to a relationship where the EU raises controversial issues each time they meet.

However, China has also been trying to strengthen global trade ties in order to revive its economy. The country’s economy grew 0.4% in the second quarter, down from the first quarter’s 4.8%.

Although diplomatic relations between the two sides have been tense in the past couple of years, China is eager to resume normal trade relations with the bloc to help ease its economic woes.

China has also stepped up its efforts to develop economic relations with the developing world. But that does not mean it will not need European and American markets.

The China Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (CCCEU) is optimistic about the upcoming trade talks.

The CCCEU welcomed the dialogue as it believes the talks could help the two sides go through their economic and trade agendas to identify areas for cooperation as well as manage differences or disputes that may hinder mutual trust.

In 2021, China was the third largest partner for EU exports (10.2%) and the largest partner for EU imports (22.4%).

While the CCCEU is hopeful that maintaining solid economic ties will help enhance global trade stability and growth, it reiterated its concern about the EU’s “increasingly restrictive investment and business environment”.

State-backed foreign firms acquiring companies in the EU will soon be subject to a regulation that aims to address foreign subsidy distortions in the bloc’s internal market.

The EU has also not yet ratified the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China, which Beijing considers diplomatically significant.

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