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6 May, 2024 09:28

China causing de-industrialization in EU – von der Leyen

The bloc chief intends to discuss “current imbalances” with Xi Jinping
China causing de-industrialization in EU – von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen intends to talk to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping about policies that she claims pose a threat of de-industrialization in the bloc.

The Chinese leader arrived in France on Sunday as part of a six-day, three-country trip to Europe, his first since 2019. The head of the EU executive branch said she would discuss “current imbalances” in Chinese trade during talks with Xi on Monday.

”China is currently manufacturing, with massive subsidies, more than it is selling due to its own weak domestic demand. This is leading to an oversupply of Chinese subsidized goods, such as EVs (electric vehicles) and steel, that is leading to unfair trade,” she claimed.

”Europe cannot accept such market-distorting practices that could lead to de-industrialization in Europe,” von der Leyen added.

In the last several weeks, the EU authorities have launched investigations into alleged unfair Chinese practices, including restrictions on the supply of European medical devices to the Asian nation’s market and subsidies for Chinese firms producing wind turbines, electric vehicles, and trains.

Meanwhile, China has opened an anti-dumping probe into brandy imported from the EU, which particularly affects French exporters. The mutual investigations are perceived as a mounting tit-for-tat stand-off over protectionism. Von der Leyen has pushed for “de-risking” trade with China, but has not gone as far as to advocate decoupling from the economic powerhouse.

EU members have largely decoupled their economies from Russia in an attempt to penalize Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. The loss of access to cheap Russian natural gas has hit energy-intensive industries in Western Europe, forcing businesses to move manufacturing to other locations. The US was among their primary destinations, as the government offered subsidies to certain producers under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

In an op-ed published in the French press ahead of his visit, Xi said Beijing was committed to reaching “new vistas” in its relationship with the country. He wrote: “France is advancing re-industrialization based on green innovation, whereas China is accelerating the development of new quality productive forces.”

After France, the Chinese president is scheduled to visit EU member Hungary and Russia-friendly non-member Serbia.