After a transitional period of fifteen years, the european Union should revise its trade policy vis-à-vis China.
fifteen years ago just, the very official news agency new China was celebrating the ” courage “ and ” foresight “ a ” great nation “, – dirty ” join the mighty torrent of the economic evolution of the world “. On December 11, 2001, the asian giant has included officially the world trade Organization (WTO).
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The ” courage “ China has clearly paid off as the ex-empire of the Middle, in the unanimous opinion of experts, has been these past fifteen years, the big winner of globalization. Its entry to the WTO was the trigger for a great take-off of its exports. Sixth world exporter in 2000, it has established itself in the first place as soon as 2010, while rising to the rank of world’s second economic power, behind the United States.
” If we had asked at the time to the negotiators what would be the weight of China in world trade in 2016, no one would have imagined this, “, ” says Sébastien Jean, director of the Centre for prospective studies and international information (Cepii). The partner countries have also benefited from the influx of cheap goods “made in China” has significantly increased the purchasing power of western consumers.
” An atmosphere of tension very strong “
But first, it is the image of a China whose expansion has accelerated the de-industrialization of the United States and Europe, which crystallizes today’s debates. the ” The anniversary of its accession to the WTO is celebrated in an atmosphere of great stress and a general feeling of distrust of globalization, “, confirmed Mr. Jean. In the United States, the election in early November of the republican Donald Trump, the opponent claimed china’s trade policy, is the sign is the most vibrant.
on 11 December is also a special character in that it represents a cut-off date legal. The protocol of accession of Beijing in the WTO allowed for a transitional period of fifteen years not to treat China as a ” market economy “. In other words, its partners were de facto allowed to use means of trade retaliation muscled against the flood of chinese products at a low cost. Now, this waiver becomes null and void.
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Europe is in The first line because it has chosen to set its trade policy by the way legal. From the beginning of the month of November, the european Commission has proposed to member States a regulation of compromise. According to this third way, the status of China would be standardized, but the tools of trade defence would be strengthened in the case of dumping found. A crucial issue because whole sectors of european industry are now threatened by overcapacity in china. the ” Currently, 80 % of the shares anti-dumping eu relate to China “, reminds François Godement, director of Asia and China of the european Council on international relations (ECFR).
Lack of openness and reciprocity in the market access
” It is unfortunate that it has not attempted to anticipate this deadline, believes his side Patrick Messerlin professor emeritus at Sciences Po. there was a time where China was very eager to play the good student and if you had said to him : "you Are granted more quickly to the market economy status in exchange for an acceleration of your reforms", it probably would have been later in his opening. “ today, judge specialist of the WTO, the transition is likely to be more ” chaotic “ because ” the Chinese are in the process of stiffen on the subject of anti-dumping duty “.
As of Monday, 12 December, Beijing could theoretically file an appeal with the WTO claiming that Europe does not meet its commitments. A standoff with the european Union is still in its interest ? Not necessarily, ” notes Sébastien Jean. in Rather than go to the conflict, the Chinese would probably prefer to put pressure on the process underway to try to influence it in their favour. “
This hypothesis is reinforced by an international context that is more uncertain than ever. the ” The election of Donald Trump will no doubt induce China to be a little more cautious on this issue “, says François Godement. No one knows what suites the president-elect will give his threats of a trade war against Beijing, once installed, the 20th of January, in the White House. But China cannot risk alienating at the same time, its two main trading partners.
China is fully aware of the criticisms that are made about the lack of openness and reciprocity in access to its market. It was, in addition to the country’s integration into the world economy, the second objective pursued by its inclusion in the WTO. the ” It should be that the words are followed, more than before, by means of reform, open trade : the Beijing talks a lot, it is time to take action. Now “, has insisted at the beginning of December the former director of the WTO Pascal Lamy, at a conference at people’s university in Beijing.
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