Beijing now investigating EU trade practices
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Beijing now investigating EU trade practices

Conflict with Brussels: Beijing now investigating EU trade practices

The formal investigation into EU trade practices is ongoing until January 10, 2025, but it can be extended by three months, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced. The move was made in response to a complaint from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the ministry said. The issue concerns “barriers to trade and investment for Chinese companies” in the EU. The investigations will involve “prior reviews, in-depth investigations and unannounced inspections of Chinese companies.”

The sectors mentioned are the same ones in which Brussels has launched investigations for unfair competition in recent months. In mid-February, investigations were opened against a subsidiary of the Chinese train giant CRRC. The state-owned company had bid to supply electric trains to Bulgaria, and Brussels suspected price distortions due to Chinese state subsidies. At the end of March, CRRC withdrew its bid.

In April, the European Commission announced that it was reviewing the award of a contract for a solar park in Romania. The targets include a subsidiary of the Chinese solar cell leader Longi, as well as two subsidiaries controlled by the state-owned Shanghai Electric. In late April, an investigation was opened into allegedly unfair public tenders for medical equipment. Another investigation is underway against wind turbine manufacturers.

In June, tariff increases of up to 38% were announced for Chinese electric cars. Brussels provisionally imposed these additional import duties in early July – a final decision is expected until early November.

China reacted angrily and announced that it would file a complaint against the EU with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Beijing has also launched an anti-dumping procedure against European spirits, with French cognac at the centre of the debate. The investigation had already started in January. Since June, an investigation has been underway against European pork and pork products, with imports mainly coming from Spain, France, the Netherlands and Denmark.

For the EU, trade conflicts with China are a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, the 27 member states often depend on Chinese products and raw materials, especially for the development of renewable energies. On the other hand, EU companies have been complaining for decades about unfair competition. Brussels wants to reduce the EU’s dependence on China, as the alliance is seen as a growing security risk.

  1. The ongoing investigation into EU trade practices, which began in 2022 and is due to end on January 10, 2025, includes concerns about “barriers to trade and investment for Chinese companies,” according to Brussels.
  2. Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce announced an extension of the investigation, citing a complaint from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and indicating the possibility of an additional three-month review period.
  3. In response to the investigation, CRRC, a major Chinese train manufacturer, in March abandoned its tender to supply electric trains to Bulgaria, following allegations of price distortions caused by Chinese state subsidies.
  4. In April, the European Commission launched an investigation into the award of a solar park contract in Romania, scrutinising a subsidiary of Chinese solar cell market leader Longi and two state-controlled subsidiaries associated with Shanghai Electric.
  5. The conflict also extends to medical equipment, with an investigation launched in April into allegedly unfair public tenders, alongside an ongoing probe into wind turbine manufacturers.
  6. The trade ministry in Brussels has to strike a delicate balance in the context of trade conflicts with China, as EU member states rely heavily on Chinese products and raw materials, particularly in the expansion of renewable energy, while constantly echoing complaints about unfair competition for years.

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