PRESS RELEASE: EU-China trade deficit massively unbalanced: €175 billion Euros

Brussels, Wednesday 8 March 2017 – Final figures from Eurostat show that the 2016 EU trade deficit with China remains severely unbalanced at almost €175 billion Euros.  The 2016 EU trade deficit with China is almost on par with the record high of 2015 which equates to around seven million containers that arrive fully loaded in Europe and go back to China empty.

Since 2001 the EU’s trade deficit with China has increased by nearly 240%. AEGIS Europe, an alliance representing around 30 European manufacturing industries, warned that the latest figures are an ominous sign, which does not bode well for Europe.

“European policy makers should be alarmed that the European economy is relying on artificially cheap Chinese imports while its own domestic manufacturing is eroding,” said Mr Nitzschke, spokesperson for AEGIS Europe.

“Europe is losing substantial parts of its manufacturing value chain without establishing new value chains to replace them,” pointed out Mr Nitzschke, adding, “China, on the other hand, is making full use of seemingly unlimited state capital and is taking over industry sector after industry sector. Strategic dumping, intellectual property theft and cyber hacking remain constant features of their state-financed strategy. Real jobs are being lost in the European economy every day as a result,” he said.

AEGIS Europe called on EU Trade Ministers, MEPs and the European Commission, which are currently discussing a new methodology for anti-dumping measures, to act decisively.

“Given the massive trade deficit with China, and that the size of the deficit is understated to the extent Chinese exporters are engaged in massive customs fraud of the kind which OLAF has now uncovered - and against which the UK in particular has failed to take action - we urge policy makers to examine carefully the negative impact the current proposal could have on jobs across the board in European manufacturing sectors,” said Mr Nitzschke.

“The proposed methodology would create new burdens and make it difficult for the EU to impose effective measures. It would also weaken the basis for defending trade defence measures at the WTO level. The absence of responsible action would risk further destabilization of the European economy,” Mr Nitzschke warned.

According to a new report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China called, “China Manufacturing 2025 – Putting Industrial Policy Ahead of Market Forces", Beijing plans a “dramatic increase in domestically-made products in 10 sectors that the government hopes will accelerate an industrial upgrade as economic growth slows”. This growth will lead to a "large-scale import substitution plan aimed at nationalising key industries" or "severely curtailing the position of foreign business".

AEGIS Europe urged policy makers to recognize and adapt to shifts in a new global trade environment. The United States is now considering more forceful actions to curb the surge of Chinese imports and overcapacities being dumped in their markets, and this creates a new threat for Europe. “The knock-on effect of US actions would be that China will seek to increase dumping onto EU markets,” stressed Mr Nitzschke.