BRUSSELS: European Union member states won’t tolerate their growing trade imbalance with China forever, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warned Tuesday, ahead of a key summit.
“We have tools to protect our market,” von der Leyen told an AFP reporter in an interview for the European Newsroom, while adding: “But we prefer to have negotiated solutions.”
Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, who chairs the European Council, will be in Beijing on Thursday for an EU-China summit.
It will be the first in-person summit between the Brussels chiefs and Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang since 2019, and focus on trade and the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.
On the economy, von der Leyen stressed that Europe was not trying to “de-couple” itself from the Chinese powerhouse, but to “de-risk” ties that had become too one-sided.
“We have seen a growing trade imbalance. The trade imbalance has doubled in the last two years to up to almost 400 billion euros by now,” she said.
“European leaders will not tolerate over time an imbalance in the trade relationship. We have tools to protect our market,” she continued, in the ENR interview.
“But we prefer to have negotiated solutions. And these are the choices that, for example, now are on the table and where I think it is also in China’s interest to look carefully at these choices.”