(Bloomberg) -- The European Union has a “very imbalanced” trade relationship with China, according to the EU’s chief trade negotiator.
While it is seeking to reduce its vulnerability when it comes to “strategic products,” that doesn’t mean the EU is disengaging with China, with which it has record trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, an executive vice president at the European Commission, said in a speech at the Bund Summit in Shanghai Saturday.
The EU is trying to strike a new balance in its strategy toward China, seeking to “de-risk” and reduce its dependency on the Asian nation while maintaining access to its market. The commission recently announced an anti-subsidy probe into Chinese electric vehicles, a move that rankled Beijing.
“It is a naked act of protectionism that will seriously disrupt and distort the global automotive industry chain,” China’s Commerce Ministry said after the probe was announced.
The current talks are happening under the EU-China “High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue” — a major forum for senior officials to discuss issues relating to macroeconomics, trade irritants, supply chains and financial services. It could also be a stepping stone for a summit between President Xi Jinping and the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen later this year.
Dombrovskis is expected to tell Beijing that concrete agreements are needed in an effort to reset the relationship, according to people familiar with the EU’s plans. He’ll also be looking to explain to his Chinese counterparts that the EV investigation will strictly follow procedural steps and he’ll seek Beijing’s cooperation.
The EU negotiator on Saturday also called for China to help in conjunction with other bodies like the United Nations to safeguard global food supplies, amid a blockage of grain shipments from Ukraine after Russia exited a safe-corridor deal brokered by the UN and Turkey.
Dombrovskis said Moscow’s behavior on the issue of food security was “disgraceful.”
--With assistance from Alberto Nardelli, Shawna Kwan and Jason Rogers.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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