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EU trade chief rules out China decoupling

Brussels must, however, protect itself as trade with Beijing is “very unbalanced,” Valdis Dombrovskis has said

© Getty Images / Thierry Monasse / Contributor

The EU will not cut economic ties with China – one of its biggest trade partners – but needs to protect itself, the European Commission’s executive vice president said on Saturday, addressing the annual Bund Summit in Shanghai.

Valdis Dombrovskis, who is also Brussels’ trade commissioner, described relations between the EU and China as “very unbalanced,” as Europe recorded a trade deficit of almost €400 billion ($427 billion) in 2022, while total import-export flows exceeded €865 billion, an all-time high.

“De-risking is not decoupling. And the EU has no intention of decoupling from China,” the official explained, adding that the bloc “also needs to protect itself in situations when its openness is abused.”

His comments came ahead of a high-stakes discussion with Chinese leaders including vice-premier He Lifeng, scheduled for next week in Beijing.

READ MORE: Italy to quit China’s Belt and Road – foreign minister

“Creating an open market among its members was one of the EU’s founding principles. We are also committed to free and fair global trade, and ‘fair’ is the key word here,” said Dombrovskis, who is currently on a four-day visit to China. 

“This means minimising our strategic dependencies for a select number of strategic products,” he added.

The top EU negotiator pledged to boost ties with China, manage trade issues and address global challenges.

Dombrovskis highlighted that the 27-nation union should minimise its reliance on “a select number of strategic products” and act in a proportionate and targeted way to maintain its “open strategic autonomy”.

According to the EU trade chief, Beijing and Brussels should work to tackle global issues such as food security, climate change and debt distress.

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