SHANGHAI - The frequent clashes over trade between China and the European Union, including anti-dumping laws and trade imbalances, are expected to be addressed at the China-EU leaders' meeting in October, according to a senior Commerce Ministry official.
"In addition to discussing the current Europe sovereign debt crisis, leaders from both sides may have useful consultations on China-EU trade and its future direction," said Sun Yongfu, director of the Department of European Affairs with the Ministry of Commerce.
Sun was speaking at the China-EU Seminar on Trade and Development, held at the Belgium-EU Pavilion in the Expo Garden at the weekend.
Sun said friction between China and EU is likely to increase with growing trade.
"But such issues can be solved through friendly discussion and cooperation on both sides, as both advocate free and open trade," he said.
The EU has a history of imposing anti-dumping restrictions on Chinese imports, which are likely to become more of an issue now that China has become the EU's biggest trading partner.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, the EU currently has more than 50 anti-dumping measures in effect against China.
The large trade imbalance between the EU and China has also become more apparent over the past few years.
China has sought to deal with its rapidly growing trade surplus by expanding imports from the EU, especially since the beginning of the global financial crisis. Since then, China has sent six trade and investment delegations to Europe, which signed agreements worth $23 billion.
The measures have proven a success and the China-EU trade gap is narrowing. China's trade surplus to the EU in 2009 was substantially reduced to $108.52 billion, a decrease of 32.3 percent compared to the previous year. Experts anticipate that the trade gap will narrow further in 2010.
"Our research shows a large amount of China's trade surplus to the EU is the result of economic development on both sides, as well as industrial structures, trade models, international industrial transfer, the strategic selection of international corporations and policy," said Zhang Yansheng, a researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner.
"The favorable balance of China's trade to the EU calculated by the current rules of origin alone cannot fully reflect the real conditions of the trade benefit and trade balance," Zhang said.
Zhang said China and the EU have a complementary trading relationship and that the EU should treat the trade imbalance objectively, without requiring China to make concessions unilaterally.
At the seminar, officials and experts from China and the EU agreed that the mutual benefits of cooperative trade between China and the EU outweighed the differences between them.