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EU-China Summit: I do not believe trade wars can be resolved by adopting protectionist stances

The European Union has already seen the dire consequences of those policies in the past, and has learned its lessons. We ought to be careful not to respond to aggressive behaviour with aggressive behaviour. That is what I told reporter Lee Jeong-ho from the South China Morning Post in an interview ahead of the 20th EU-China Summit in Beijing.

European Council President Tusk and European Commission President Juncker represented the EU at the summit, while the People's Republic of China was represented by Premier Li Keqiang. The EU leaders also met with the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

As demonstrated by the EU-China Summit, the EU-China relationship is more important than ever. The EU is China's second biggest trade partner, but the bloc faces a closed market. There is no reciprocity in China towards our investors compared with the opening up of EU markets to Chinese companies. The market restriction has resulted in a reduction of Foreign Direct Investment to China. We want that to change, I told the South China Morning Post.

I further explained that China, the US and the EU countries are members of the WTO, and are obliged to follow its practices. We expect the US and China to tackle their differences on that basis. Since the mid-20th century, the EU has firmly contributed to internationally agreed rules and institutions together with the US. We believe in the strength and validity of those mechanisms. The EU is working hard to create a level playing field for all countries and reciprocity is crucial to create that, I underlined.

If the US started putting tariffs on European goods, we will not sit idly by while our industry is being hit with unfair measures, which put thousands of European jobs at risk. The trade war is more like the Trump administration versus the rest of the world and this go-it-alone action does not help the global economy.

Most welcome is the deal signed between the EU and Japan on Tuesday. The long-awaited trade agreement is the biggest trade deal ever signed by the EU and will remove almost all the €1 billion duties paid every year by EU companies exporting to Japan. In the midst of the gloom and doom surrounding global trade the deal is a bright spot that can push the EU to uphold high the principles of open, free and fair trade, as well as those of a rules-based multilateral order.

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