The European Union and China reach an agreement for the rebalancing of trade relations

Parallel to the negotiations for the exit of Great Britain, the European Union carried out an equally complicated negotiation with China, which lasted even longer than that with London; after seven years, in fact, Brussels and Beijing have concluded an agreement to rebalance their trade relations, up to now skewed in favor of the Chinese. The conclusion of the negotiation should finally allow European companies to access the vast Chinese market, also eliminating the discriminatory practices with which the Chinese bureaucracy harassed European investors. The agreement focuses on three main points: Beijing’s commitment has guaranteed greater transparency on state subsidies provided to Chinese companies, to favor greater conditions of fairness for competition, a direction towards a different approach by Chinese institutions to guarantee conditions of parity between local and European companies and, finally, a slowdown in technology transfer, which, until now, has been one of the strengths of the Chinese production system. Undoubtedly, this agreement does not completely resolve the problems of the relationship with the Chinese productive world, but it represents progress in bilateral relations, even if after seven years the result appears lower than expected and does not allow to recover the gap that this time has created precisely in advantage of Beijing; however, access to a huge market like the Chinese one, especially when the economic and financial policy of the Chinese government wanted to privilege the internal market, represents too important an opportunity, in an absolute sense, both in the future and framed in the current moment of economic difficulty. In concrete terms, China opens up to competition sectors such as cloud services, finance, private health care and environmental and transport services, which were entirely reserved for local companies; the agreement also opens up new prospects in the manufacturing sector, which constitutes a share of more than 50% of total European investments in China; also in the automobile sector, which represents ample development margins thanks to electric traction, there will be new opportunities thanks to the gradual elimination of the obligation to create mixed companies: European investments in China in this sector represent the 28% share. of the total, therefore destined to grow with the new regulation. More controversial are the real applications that the European Commission would have obtained from China regarding greater respect for the environment and, above all, with regard to labor rights: in the past Beijing had already committed itself to these issues, without, however, keeping its word date; this time among the reassurances towards Europe, the People’s Republic of China has promised to adopt, albeit gradually, all the conventions of the International Labor Organization, this is an issue that should be decisive for reaching agreements with the Chinese economic superpower, both from a moral point of view and from a pure economic advantage to establish a level playing field for access to the world of work, as a determining component of the economic process. These considerations open a complex reasoning on the convenience of the agreement with China: established that during the French presidency in 2022, extensive assessments will be made on relations with the Chinese country, the doubts, widely expressed, remain for the repression operated by the regime of Xi Jinping in Hong Kong, against the populations of Uighurs, Tibet and against the internal opposition, also through the persecution of journalists and human rights activists. Within the European institutions not everyone is in favor of this agreement, for example the president of the European Parliament for relations with China, has defined the treaty as a strategic error and the main European ally, the United States, has expressed concern; if for the economy the agreement can be considered an opportunity, in a more general evaluation it cannot be said that the country with which this treaty was stipulated is a dictatorship, which has every interest, both economic and political. , to have increasingly secure relationships with the largest market in the world and to try to penetrate more and more into European society. The Chinese model is looked upon with envy by many of the corporate ruling class and this constitutes a strong point for Beijing, which, on the contrary, should be stimulated, especially with the economic lever, to approach Western values: not the other way around.