Consultations between China and the European Union (EU) over Chinese import tariffs on auto parts have concluded without any deal being struck but the door is open for both sides to consider their next step.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson made these observations in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, yesterday at the start of a five-day visit to the country.
"There’ll be no hiding from this issue,” he said. “It’s significant and the outcome is important."
The EU and the United States jointly filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization in March accusing China of imposing a discriminatory tariff regime on foreign car parts.
Mandelson is scheduled to meet Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai during his visit and they’ll discuss issues such as trade relations, the market economy status of China, intellectual property rights and the current Doha round of global trade talks, according to the European Commission delegation in Beijing.
At a press conference yesterday Mandelson expressed keen interest in seeking greater access to the Chinese market for the EU's financial-services providers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
He will visit a Philips semiconductor plant in Dongguan, the port of Yantian, Shenzhen and deliver a speech at Renmin University of China in Beijing.
On his first visit to Guangdong, which accounts for more than a third of the country's exports, Mandelson said: "You couldn’t get closer to the heart of China's economic transformation than to visit Guangdong Province."
Trade between Guangdong and the EU rose by 23.8 per cent to US$48.91 billion last year, according to the provincial statistics bureau.
As the advantage of Guangdong's low-cost production is being eroded by other provinces and countries in Asia further growth in the province would involve more intellectual content and added value, he said.
Mandelson attended the launch of the Pearl River Delta Chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, the seventh chapter on the mainland.
"The main issue here is SMEs and we realize they face a range of different issues to penetrate the Chinese market," said Serge Janssens de Varebeke, president of the chamber.
(China Daily June 6, 2006)