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No breakthrough expected in EU-China summit

Beijing lowers tariffs on computers, bikes, other goods

April 09, 2019 00:00:00

BRUSSELS, Apr 08 (AFP): Top EU leaders meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang this week at a summit in Brussels, but their hopes of winning solid commitments on trade look set for disappointment.

Brussels is trying to beef up its approach to the Asian giant as it shows little willingness to listen to longstanding complaints about industrial subsidies and access to its markets, and as fears grow about growing Chinese involvement in European infrastructure.

But the half-day summit on Tuesday is on course to fizzle out with little to show in terms of agreements, with European sources saying it looks highly unlikely a final joint statement will be agreed.

EU officials say China is unwilling to give binding commitments on their key demands, including the inclusion of industrial subsidies as part of World Trade Organisation (WTO) reform, and they are reluctant to agree the kind of anodyne declaration of good intentions pushed out after last year's summit in Beijing.

Meanwhile, China announced on Monday it will lower tariffs on some consumer goods ranging from computers to furniture and bicycles as Beijing faces worldwide scrutiny over its trade practices. Beijing and Washington have slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade in their simmering trade spat while Europe has recently indicated it will take China to task for alleged unfair trade policies.

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