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EU can gain by granting market economy status

By Fu Jing (China Daily Europe) Updated: 2016-01-10 13:09

It would not only be the correct decision by Brussels, but also a historic one

Over the last four decades, China has successfully transformed itself from a planned economy into an open economy where almost all commodities are priced by market forces. More than 80 countries have recognized China's strenuous efforts in this regard by granting it market economy status.

However, the United States, the European Union, Canada and some other developed economies have yet to do the same, either to restrict the flow of China's low-cost exports into their markets, or to take advantage of their willingness to bestow such status as a bargaining chip when meeting Beijing at the negotiating table to discuss other issues.

China seeks market-economy status in the hope that the impact of antidumping duties on its exports will be diminished. If such status is given, these developed economies would not be allowed to levy anti-dumping taxes against China's exports by using a constructed value based on costs and prices from outside the exporting country. During previous years, exports of China's textile and solar products, clothes and bicycles to developed economies have been hugely affected due to them not accepting China as a market economy.

Though Beijing expects to "automatically" gain recognition as a market economy by the end of the year, there are still obstacles being put in its path.

Washington has basically opposed China's rise and it has even recently warned the EU not to "compromise" by granting China market economy status. In the EU itself, opinion is divided, although there are strong voices in favor of giving China such status.

EU can gain by granting market economy status

It is reported that the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-state union, will be giving its preliminary assessment next week. While most EU member states have recognized China's reform progress, countries such as Italy and France have expressed the difficulties they face should the decision go in favor of China.

Meanwhile, the US is trying every means to lobby the EU in favor of supporting its position, warning that if the EU grants China market economy status it will be "unilaterally disarming" itself.

Some European experts have expressed their opinion that giving market economy status to China needs coordination among the developed economies.

But Brussels needs to assert its "independence" in decision-making from the US. More importantly, Brussels should keep the bigger picture in mind when making its decision, which is that the EU and China have been expanding their cooperation with unprecedented momentum over the last few years and China is going to receive market economy status anyway. So why not give it a little early so the EU is able to get some benefits from China in return?

The Chinese government's interpretation of its World Trade Organization accession protocol is that China will be "automatically" granted market economy status 15 years after it entered into the global free trade system in December 2001.

Over the last two years, a lot of European countries have ignored Washington's will and joined the China-led Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank and supported China's currency being included in the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights basket of global currencies.

All these decisions are forward-thinking and benefit the world.

In return, China has become the first country outside the European Union to support the European Investment Scheme.

It would not only be the correct decision, but also a historic one, for Brussels to grant China market economy status.

And the sooner the better, because in Chinese philosophy: if you give me an inch, I may return a foot.

The author is China Daily chief correspondent in Brussels. Contact the writer at fujing@chinadaily.com.cn

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