The European Union needs to do more to help companies pursue trade complaints against China and other state-run economies without fear of retaliation, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said.
“It is undeniable that many European companies are unwilling to come forward and make justified trade defense complaints due to fear of consequences,” De Gucht said in a speech today in Brussels. Responding to questions, he singled out the Chinese for applying direct pressure on industry.
“Notably China is approaching directly companies with ‘advice’ how they should behave,” De Gucht said.
The EU is considering ways to start trade complaints on its own initiative, without a formal complaint from affected companies, De Gucht said. Companies would still need encouragement to work with the commission on the cases, which investigate whether goods are being sold into the 27-nation bloc below cost in a practice known as dumping.
If the EU were to begin pursuing its own complaints, “no government could blame a European company for the launch of the case,” De Gucht said. “The flip side, of course, is that we would need tough rules to oblige reticent companies to cooperate with us.”
The EU in April launched a public consultation on ways to modernize its trade complaint procedures. A formal proposal could come later this year.
“It’s not only about the interest of a specific company,” De Gucht said today. “It’s also about the general interest of the European economy.”
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