Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

European Union urges US, China and Russian Federation to prevent trade ‘conflict and chaos’

Tusk made the comment on Monday when he and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Beijing to hold talks with Chinese counterparts at the 20th China-EU summit.

On Thursday, prominent economist and former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman Stephen Roach told CNBC that Trump appears to be on track to lose in the trade war because the hugely dependent on China "for low-priced goods to make ends meet for American consumers".

The remarks reflect the deteriorating relations between Europe and the USA after Trump hit the EU with tariffs on steel and aluminium, withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, and badgered European nations over defence spending.

Tusk issued his appeal in opening remarks to an annual EU-China summit on Monday, as he made an explicit link between the European delegation visiting Beijing and the United States president's meeting later the same day in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Beijing summit convened hours before Trump was slated to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki - a fraught meeting further complicated by America's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

But China and the European Union jointly denounced "protectionism and unilateralism" in a statement Monday and unveiled plans to form a working group tasked with helping the WTO run more smoothly.

Long accused of protectionist tactics that make it a hard place for foreign firms to operate, China is trying to reverse that narrative amid the escalating trade war by approving huge investments, such as a $10 billion petrochemicals project by Germany's BASF.

China also said both its imports and exports with the USA rose in the first half of 2018.

Beijing said it would "fight back as usual" and would file a complaint with the WTO.

Both China and Europe have stressed the need for trade differences to be addressed through the WTO, but the United States has said China's unfair policies are too urgent and too big for the trade body to handle.

"The aim of this reform should be to strengthen the WTO as an institution and to ensure a level playing field".

"Together speaking out to protect free trade will send a positive signal to the world", Li said.

After China retaliated, the US Trade Representative proposed an additional $200 billion in tariffs.

That's one of the reasons behind the Trump administration's trade offensive against China. It disagreed with the US' approach to addressing the long-standing complaints about China but also called for Beijing to speed up the opening up of market access and improvement of competition fairness.

The EU and United States are also involved in an exchange of tariff sanctions. Trump continued to anger allies in a chaotic end to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit last week. "They are just a trade bully", he told reporters in Geneva. China, he said, is a foe "economically... but that doesn't mean they are bad".

Tusk wrote on Twitter that the European Union and the United States are "best friends". "Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news", he wrote.

Tusk also said that the two parties discussed the issues of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, and that they would talk about the issue of Russia's role in Ukraine.

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