Protectionism hurts EU exports to China
Updated: 2013-06-05 05:54
By Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily)
The United States is expected to replace the European Union as China's largest trade partner this year, with increasing trade protectionism in the EU hurting bilateral trade, according to a senior Chinese government adviser.
"US trade with China may hit $450 billion in 2013, while EU trade with China will hover around $420 billion," Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, told China Daily in an interview.
Wei is vice-chairman and secretary-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a high-level government think tank.
The EU is now China's largest trade partner, while China is the EU's second-largest. However, China's trade with the EU fell by 3.7 percent year-on-year in 2012 and by 1.3 percent in the first four months of this year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
"The decline is attributable to the EU's growing trade protectionism and its curbs on the exports of high-tech products to China," Wei said.
The EU is involved in 31 trade investigations, with 18 of them concerning China, industry statistics show.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht announced on Tuesday that the EU has decided to impose provisional anti-dumping duties on imports of solar panels, cells and wafers from China.
EU imports of Chinese solar products would be subject to a punitive duty of 11.8 percent from June 6 to August 6, after which the duty will be raised to 47.6 percent, De Gucht said.
Wei said: "Trade protectionism in the European Union has been gaining ground in the past decade, and the situation has become even worse after the sovereign debt crisis."
Some 56 percent of trade investigations by the EU targeted China in recent years, while the figure 10 years ago was only 12 percent, Wei said.
"Such trade protectionism, however, will not help address the economic difficulties of the eurozone economy. Instead, it will further worsen the situation," Wei added.
Exports of China's solar products are worth about $27.2 billion annually, while some 66 percent of jobs in the solar panel industry are in European job markets, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.