The European Union’s (EU) trade chief has outlined the opportunities from strengthening trade and investment relations with China, assuring the business community that the bloc would fight protectionism together with Beijing.
“If rising protectionism from elsewhere is a threat to the Chinese economy, we stand ready to engage and fight against it together,” Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner for Trade, said on Monday night to a business conference organized by BusinessEurope, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, and the EU-China Business Association.
With U.S. President Donald Trump taking office, the business community is widely concerned that international trade might be hampered by the headwinds created by major economies’ trade policies.
But Malmstrom said: “If others are closing their doors, ours is still open.”
Calling barriers and protectionism “a threat” to the open societies of Europe, Malmstrom said the EU would like to build bridges, not walls.
“If others around the world want to use trade as a weapon, I want to use it as a tonic; a vital ingredient for prosperity and progress,” said the EU trade chief.
The commissioner set out the opportunities from strengthening trade and investment relations with China, a market that accounts for one fifth of EU goods imports and one tenth of its exports.
Noting that China was the EU’s second biggest trading partner, and the EU is China’s largest, the bloc’s trade chief said EU-China trade ties could be even stronger beside the impressive trade figures.