EU takes anti-Trump trade show to China and Japan

The United States flag and the European Union flag. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2018
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EU takes anti-Trump trade show to China and Japan

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s top officials will meet the leaders of China and Japan next week to boost ties in the face of fears that US President Donald Trump will spark an all-out global trade war.
The trip by EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker includes the signing of a free trade deal with Japan, which was moved from Brussels last week because Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was dealing with deadly floods at home.
Their Asian tour comes as the EU — which, with 28 countries and 500 million people is the world’s biggest single market — tries to forge alliances in the face of the protectionism of Trump’s “America First” administration.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the “landmark” Japan deal was “the biggest ever negotiated by the European Union.”
“This agreement will create an open trade zone covering nearly a third of the world’s GDP,” Schinas added.
In China on Monday, the two leaders will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to discuss their shared tensions with Washington, having both recently announced new tariffs on US goods in retaliation for measures imposed by Trump.
They are expected to reaffirm their support for the rules-based international order, including the World Trade Organization, which faces unprecedented criticism from Trump’s administration.
The leaders will also discuss climate change — another area on which the EU is in disagreement with Trump after he pulled out of the Paris climate deal — and nuclear issues in North Korea and Iran, Schinas said.
But the EU and China will have to smooth over existing differences over Beijing’s own restrictive market practices including the “dumping” of cheap Chinese imports, especially steel.
Some of those concerns are shared by Washington.
The EU recently pushed through measures targeting China that were intended to offset the consequences of granting China so-called market economy status at the WTO, which will make it more difficult to prove and punish illegal trade practices by Beijing.
In Tokyo, talks will also focus on presenting a united front against the United States over its tariffs, with the Japanese government having slammed them as “extremely deplorable.”
The EU-Japan deal was hailed recently as a “strong signal to the world” against US protectionism by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who is traveling with Juncker and Tusk to Asia.
Abe was originally due to come to Brussels to sign the deal last week, but he called off the trip after flooding and landslides in Japan that killed more than 200 people.
Tusk had said that after the “tragic circumstances” they would move the summit to Tokyo.
Schinas confirmed that Juncker would stick to his “very demanding agenda” and go on the trip to China and Japan, despite suffering from a painful medical condition that made him stumble repeatedly at a NATO summit in Brussels this week.
The EU spokesman denied “insulting” suggestions that Juncker was drunk.


US-China trade talks resume in Washington from Tuesday

Updated 43 min 44 sec ago
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US-China trade talks resume in Washington from Tuesday

  • The last set of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal
  • The next round of negotiations will commence with deputy-level meetings before moving on to principal-level talks on Thursday

WASHINGTON: US-China trade talks aimed at ending a damaging tariff war will resume from Tuesday in Washington, the White House has announced.
The last set of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal, though US President Donald Trump said the discussions were going “extremely well” and suggested he could extend a March 1 truce deadline for an agreement to be reached.
The next round of negotiations will commence with deputy-level meetings before moving on to principal-level talks on Thursday, a White House statement issued Monday said.
For the US, the talks will be led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro.
China’s commerce ministry meanwhile announced it would be represented by Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s top trade negotiator.
On Friday, Trump re-iterated he might be willing to hold off on increasing tariffs to 25 percent from the current 10 percent on March 1 on $200 billion in Chinese goods if Washington and Beijing are close to finalizing an agreement to deal with US complaints about unfair trade and theft of American technology.
American officials accuse Beijing of seeking global industrial predominance through an array of unfair trade practices, including the “theft” of American intellectual property and massive state intervention in commodities markets.
Since a December detente, China has resumed purchases of some US soybeans and dangled massive buying of American commodities to get US trade negotiators closer to a deal.
The talks are aimed at “achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China,” Monday’s statement said.
“The two sides will also discuss China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of goods and services from the United States.”
Beijing and Washington have imposed duties on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which are weighing on their manufacturing sectors and have shaken global financial markets.