Market economy status for China: MEPs call for fair competition safeguards

“China is not a market economy” on EU criteria, argued MEPs of all political colours in Tuesday morning’s debate with the Council and Commission. The debate centred on how the EU should counter any unfair competition from China after 11 December 2016, when its World Trade Organization (WTO) access protocol foresees changes in its treatment in trade defence investigations.

Most speakers pointed out that China subsidizes its firms, is not open about state aid and offers low export prices that are “clearly” not determined by supply and demand. They stressed that its surplus production capacity feeds cheap exports to the EU that do economic damage, particularly to the EU steel market, where hundreds of thousands of workers now fear for their jobs.

Many called on the EU Commission to swiftly come forward with a new proposal to counter dumping. However others stressed that the EU must send a clear signal that China may not be recognized as a market economy.

European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis reassured MEPs that tackling the steel industry crisis was high on the Commission’s priority list. It is “undeniable” that China is not a market economy and the Commission is therefore working on a “new approach” that will include a strong trade defence system and ensure compliance with the WTO rules, he said.

Mr Andriukaitis hinted that this approach could be modelled on that of the USA, which calculates dumping margins on a case by case basis. The College of Commissioners will debate this “before the summer recess”, he promised.

For the Council Presidency, Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert said that the issue would be discussed at the 13 May Foreign Affairs Council on trade matters.

Parliament will vote on a resolution on Thursday, 12 May.

Replays of statement by:

Jeanine HENNIS-PLASSCHAERT, Dutch presidency of the Council

Vytenis Povilas ANDRIUKAITIS, Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety

Daniel Caspary (EPP, DE)

Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT)

Emma Mcclarkin (ECR, UK)

Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL)

Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, DE)

Reinhard Bütikofer (Green/EFA, DE)

David Borelli (EFDD, IT)

Marine Le Pen (ENF, FR)