The European Union and China are expected to set up a working group
to deepen cooperation on reforming the multilateral trading system, said
a senior EU trade diplomat on Wednesday.
This joint decision is likely to be finalized at the upcoming Sino-EU
summit on July 16-17. A few weeks ago, when China and the EU held an
economic and trade dialogue in Beijing, this idea had emerged but the
detailed plan was still unknown.
"I would expect that at the summit on July 16-17, we will reconfirm
to establish a working group on WTO reform," Marc Vanheukelen, EU
ambassador and permanent representative to the Geneva-based World Trade
Vanheukelen responded during an interview at a WTO session reviewing
China's trade policy in Geneva. His comments have indicated that
defending the multilateral trading system, which is under attack mainly
due to US President Donald Trump's administration levying excessive
tariffs from its trade partners, will be high on the agenda of the
Sino-EU summit in Beijing.
But he has not offered details on the issue and said the EU is
willing to hold a conversation with all WTO members not only to
safeguard the multilateral trading system but also to complete the WTO
"As one of China's top trading partners, the European Union looks
forward to continue working with China in a sense of shared
responsibility to not only safeguard but strengthen the multilateral
trading system," said Vanheukelen.
The WTO policy review session on China will end on Friday and it is a
regular mechanism to overview the trade policy of the world's top four
trading economies every two years, which include China, US, EU and
Vanheukelen said economic reform in China has been impressive for
years and it has been keeping on straightforward, which has brought what
is called an economic miracle.
"We have acknowledged ... Given the weight of China's economy in
international trade, we expect that China's leadership role comes with
responsibility," said Vanheukelen.
Syed Tauqir Shah, Pakistan's ambassador and permanent representative
to the WTO, also said that China's role for the WTO is "critical."
"With strong protectionism gathering around and attacking the
multilateral trading system, China is the great force defending the
system. We appreciate that," said Shah.
"Pakistan, including other WTO members, appreciate the leadership role played by China within WTO."
Shah also said his country also appreciates China's efforts in
voluntarily and continually cutting tariffs since its accession into the
WTO in 2001.
Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International
Political Economy, said China, like other nations, is stepping up its
efforts to defend the open and rules-based trading system against
attacks from the US administration.
"It's impossible to say if President Trump will change his mind on
trade conflicts and escalating tariff wars, but the only way to defend
long-term Chinese economic interests is to progress on economic reforms
and provide leadership for other countries to do the same," said Erixon.