Commenting on the 9th High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue between the EU and the PRC, Reinhard Bütikofer, China expert of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, says:
“The EU-China Economic and Trade Dialogue can be summarized by adapting a famous Shakespeare quote: “Much ado about almost nothing”.
The EU and China agreed on enhanced cooperation on animal health. They also patted themselves on the shoulder for positive outcomes of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation more than four weeks ago, even though they obviously could not agree on necessary further steps of reform. That both sides see a need to “prevent supply chain disruptions” is just a very abstract pledge. Fourthly, China committed to ensure that its domestic regulation would not curtail the business of European leasing companies in China. Beyond these meagre points, no agreement could be achieved.
European concerns about a worsening business environment in China seem to have fallen on deaf ears, just as much as European arguments against economic coercion, including in the Lithuanian case. On a number of European proposals, there seems not to have been a Chinese answer. That includes the need to help address the challenges caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; it includes work on debt relief for low-income countries; it includes transparency and adequate information on the supply of certain critical materials; it includes China’s Covid-19 pandemic management and a long host of other issues.
To call China a key trading partner, as Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis did, is a very gracious description of an effectively more grim reality. China should rather be called a “key trading adversary”.