Beijing sows discord among Europeans

Yet again, Europe brings its split ranks to the negotiating table. Yet again, Berlin wants to lead with a project different from what the European core wants, and yet again, China will be the winner.

China is defying the European Union. It is testing the ability of the 27 member states to maintain the only common policy that actually exists – the trade policy. Europe exists on the international scene as a unique entity in one capacity only – trade. Will the Europeans throw in the towel on this issue also?

The stakes are high. The struggle is over a sector – photovoltaic panels – that is crucial to the industries of the future. The European Union Trade Commissioner, Belgium’s Karel De Gucht, suspects Chinese suppliers in that sector of massive price dumping. He proposes to impose, by June 5, a temporary 47 per cent customs tax on Chinese solar panels. He wants to protect European suppliers in this sector. Some 25,000 jobs are allegedly threatened by the unfair trade practices of the Chinese competition.

Berlin does not want a trade war with Beijing, at any price. Exporters on the other side of the Rhine fear losing the Chinese market. For them, that market counts more than European Unity. During a meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the tax proposed by Brussels and suggested a negotiation with Beijing.

The correct strategy, for Europe as a whole, would have been to publically endorse Mr De Gucht’s initiative in order to arrive at negotiations with China in a position of force. In short, act like the Unites States, and not, yet again, like the Care Bears of international trade.

Full article: Beijing sows discord among Europeans (Presseurop)

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