Designing its trade policy towards China, Europe should exert extreme foresightedness. Rather than to be trapped in bilateral trade balance conflicts (economically meaningless and politically hopeless), the EU should push for objectives that are attractive to its own interests, and to Chinese interests – China’s economy is already too large to be influenced exclusively from outside. In this perspective, the paper offers five main proposals. • Concerning trade in goods, the EU should aim at a ‘joint better enforcement’ of China’s WTO Accession Protocol – granting China the market economy status in antidumping investigation while getting from China clarification, confirmation, and other marginal improvements of its tariff schedule as back. • The EU should narrow down its requests on intellectual property rights to limited range, which deliver true innovations and benefits to both European producers and Chinese consumers. • The EU should focus on services and foreign investment, by proposing an early and progressive elimination of the special safeguard instrument against Chinese exporters in exchange for additional commitments from China in services and investment. • The EU should re-focus its trade policy on the WTO, away from bilateral trade agreements. Such agreements amplify incentives among Asian countries to negotiate bilaterals between themselves, by the same token risking further marginalizing the EU. And they tend to segment even more the Chinese provincial markets, while the WTO approach would reinforce the emerging ‘Chinese Single Market’. • Improving the functioning of its domestic markets would make the EU more resistant to the increasing size of the Chinese economy, for instance, in the energy or financial sectors. Such an ambitious program has no chance to succeed if it does not fill two conditions. First, it should keep a clear economic focus. Trade negotiators are not credible when they tackle political issues. Second, the EU should work with other players in the world. As such cooperation should not be perceived by China as an aggressive coalition, it should involve a notable group of countries. It is thus important for the EU to go beyond the US and Japan, and to ensure the participation of medium-size countries in this cooperation. A key benefit of the presence of such medium-size countries is that they are often among the best ones in terms of governance – the great challenge faced by China, and consequently, by the entire world.
Together with a strong emphasis on deep integration, the main thrust of the EU's new trade strategy as announced in October 2006 is competitive regionalism, i.e. the competition between different jurisdictions which seek strategic advantages for themselves through the conclusion of bilateral agreements with priority trading partners. This article outlines the new trade strategy in the light of the changes caused by the Lisbon Treaty. It then presents a detailed positioning of the EU in the geography of international trade policy.
Despite the announcement of a 'new trade strategy', EU agricultural trade policy has exhibited considerable consistency over several decades, always conditional on the CAP regime and the course of its reform. A 25-year, heavily subsidised transition, will shortly see European farmers (thanks to income support of up to 50% of their total income), able to enter the world market without export subsidies. Meanwhile the EC expects 'partner' countries in Africa (and the Caribbean and the Pacific) with still underdeveloped infrastructures, and provided with relatively trivial subsidies, to complete a similar process in a decade or so. The economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations are based on a shift from the Lome Convention's non-reciprocity commitment to a basic regime of free trade between the EU and EPA regions, involving liberalisation of trade in goods, trade-related areas and services. Whereas Europe has already effectively integrated, few African regions have yet got very far in regional integration, but the EC is forcing the pace in negotiations so that there is a risk that integration will be with the EU rather than within a country's own region, and on the EU's terms. A 'development dimension' adds an element of window-dressing (or sugaring of the pill). This article considers the development programmes that the EU is promising in order to address infrastructural constraints in the partner countries, and the costs of adjustment to free trade, in particular the loss of state revenues generated from tariffs. The article concludes with an attempt to foresee the likely outcomes and implications of the negotiations, including the undermining of government revenues and the consequent increase in reliance on the private sector for many services, accelerated deindustrialisation, and the inhibiting of first-stage processing of agricultural commodities, the undermining of regional integration, the economic 'recolonisation' of Africa and the harming of efforts to promote national exploitation of economic resources. Adapted from the source document.
Studies of EU trade policymaking often suggest that delegation of trade authority from the national to the European level strengthened the autonomy of public actors in formulating trade policies. Little empirical research, however, has been undertaken to corroborate this contention. To improve on this situation, I carry out two case studies of the EU’s participation in the multilateral trade negotiations known as the Kennedy Round (1964-67) and the Doha Development Agenda (2001 onwards). The analysis reveals that in both cases the EU’s negotiating position was largely in line with the demands voiced by economic interests. Although this finding is no proof of economic interests actually determining EU trade policies, it casts some doubt on the autonomy thesis. I also discuss some factors that indicate that interest group influence may be the most plausible explanation for the finding.