EU urges big powers to avert trade ‘conflict and chaos’
The comments from EU Council President Donald Tusk comes as Washington and Beijing stand on the brink of an all-out trade war many fear could hammer the global economy, while the U.S. has also picked fights with allies in Europe and Canada.
“It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russia, not to destroy (the global trade order) but to improve it, not to start trade wars which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history,” Tusk said in Beijing.
“There is still time to prevent conflict and chaos.”
The EU -- the world’s biggest single market with 28 countries and 500 million people -- is trying to buttress alliances in the face of the protectionism unleashed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” administration.
The meeting between Chinese and European officials in Beijing, which also included European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, comes as Trump prepared to hold talks in Helsinki with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Comprehensive reform of WTO
Trump sprinkled further spice on the rising rancor in a interview aired Sunday in which he labelled the EU, Russia and China as “foes” of the United States.
“Today we are facing a dilemma, whether to play a tough game, such as tariff wars and conflict in places like Ukraine and Syria, or to look for common solutions based on fair rules.”
Tusk did not immediately specify what sorts of reform he was referring to.
French President Emmanuel Macron had called in late May for talks on overhauling the WTO.
Besides the steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU, Russia and major U.S. trading partners, Trump earlier this month implemented tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, drawing a tit-for-tat response from Beijing.
Washington last week threatened yet more measures on another $200 billion in Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to vow further retaliation.
Warning by China
China said on July 16 that its economic growth rate had slowed slightly to 6.7 percent in the second quarter of this year, from 6.8 percent the previous quarter, and a government spokesman warned a trade conflict threatens all the affected economies.
“The China-U.S. trade friction unilaterally provoked by the United States will have an impact on the Chinese and US economies,” Mao Shengyong, a spokesman for the national statistics bureau.
“Now that the world economy is deeply integrated, industrial Chains have become globalized, and many related countries also will feel an impact.”