EU cannot be ‘naive’ over China dumping: ministers

EU trade ministers yesterday said that they must not be “naive” in the face of alleged Chinese price dumping as they try to agree on tougher measures to fight unfairly low prices.

“Europe cannot be naive and must protect its interests, especially when it comes to dumping,” Slovakian Minister of Trade Peter Ziga said.

The 28 ministers meeting in Brussels were looking to agree on a new method to assess whether Chinese exporters are unfairly flooding the European market with their products.

Within the EU, the tougher proposals have been rejected by free-trade purists such as Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands, which fear a move toward protectionism and angering China.

Steelmakers are especially keen for the changes after being battered by a collapse in prices due to China-led oversupply and a wave of cheap imports.

Steelworkers protested in Brussels on Wednesday, demanding that the EU pass the rules.

“Whether we can reach an agreement today [yesterday] or not, I don’t really know, but it is in the process. If not today, I see it quite soon,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said as she arrived for the talks.

These extra defenses are key as China next month is widely expected to receive the official WTO designation of Market Economy Status (MES).

This new standing means that China’s trade partners would no longer be allowed to use alternative methods to measure potential price dumping, handing much more power in trade fights to Beijing.

To counter this, the European Commission’s proposal introduces several criteria to assess trade partners, such as state policies and influence, the widespread presence of state-owned companies and the independence of the financial sector.

Beijing on Thursday said the EU’s tougher proposals were wrong, leaving China as a “surrogate country” in the eyes of the WTO.

“These new measures have no basis in World Trade Organization rules,” Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang (沈丹陽) said, adding that the EU was illegally stripping China of its WTO rights.

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