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12/6/2023, 6:10 AM (Source: TeleTrader)
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EU-China trade: Partners, competitors, rivals

The European Union and China will hold their first in-person summit since before the COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing on Thursday. The two sides expect a "constructive dialogue aimed at achieving balanced economic relations," the EU said. And while the union is quick to point out it is not "de-coupling" from China but rather "de-risking," it also acknowledges its relations with Beijing are complex.

The EU often describes trade relations with China as "unbalanced," with the EU running a €396 billion goods deficit in bilateral trade in 2022. It has also criticized China for its lack of openness and transparency, accusing it of "industrial policies and non-tariff measures that discriminate against foreign companies," government meddling, and poor intellectual property rights protection. Beijing hit back, blaming the EU for causing the deficit by limiting tech exports and accusing it of protectionism.

The recent tensions seemed to reach their peak in September, when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced an anti-subsidy investigation into China's electric vehicles, drawing vocal protests from Beijing. Then, on the eve of Thursday's summit, Von der Leyen warned the EU will not "tolerate" the trade imbalance "forever," possibly further increasing the strain on the upcoming discussions. Considering the summit will also cover other contentious issues, such as geopolitics and climate change, it is unlikely to lead to significant breakthroughs, keeping China a "partner for cooperation and negotiation, an economic competitor and a systemic rival" for the EU.

Baha Breaking News (BBN) / DJ