China criticizes 'unfair' EU trade policy at WTO meeting

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

A WTO forum to discuss EU trade policy has opened with China's representative criticizing several aspects of the bloc's rules.

China has used a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to criticize a series of trade measures implemented by the EU, claiming that they unfairly target Beijing and will have "serious ramifications" for global trade.

It came at the opening of a triennial trade forum to review the policies of the EU, which allows other WTO members to raise concerns, the South China Morning Post reports.

In his address, Chinese ambassador to the WTO Li Chenggang highlighted a new foreign subsidies act, investment screening and a critical minerals law as "unjustified and discriminatory", as well as criticizing new rules on subsidiaries and export controls.

While none of these measures explicitly target China - and have been crafted to align with WTO rules - EU officials have acknowledged they are part of an effort to counter policies implemented by Beijing that the WTO is currently ill-equipped to address, the Morning Post noted. 

Mr Li also raised objections to the EU's net-zero efforts, which he said could restrict shipments of batteries and green energy technology from China to the bloc. He stated this goes "counter to the market principles and the basic rules" of the multilateral trading system.

Further steps are also expected to be taken when Brussels introduces a new economic security strategy later this month. This is said to include measures that will restrict EU investment in Chinese hi-tech sectors such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors.

China was not the only EU trading partner to raise concerns about some aspects of EU trade policy at the WTO forum. Simon Manley, the UK's representative at the event, while broadly positive about post-Brexit EU-UK arrangements, stated: "The UK and EU have mutual trade obligations under the TCA [Trade and Cooperation Agreement] and WTO. We must work together to avoid a subsidy race that could distort trade or negatively impact emerging sectors."

Meanwhile, the US' ambassador María Pagán criticized EU regulations that restrict access for US chemical makers, as well as protected geographical indications that prohibit US importers such as winemakers from using certain terms in their labeling.