China will not turn inward to counter downturn

13 February 2009

13 February 2009 | Paul Snell

The Chinese government has said it will not institute a "buy Chinese" policy to deal with the current economic crisis.

"We won't practice 'Buy China'. We'll treat domestic and foreign products equally as long as they are needed," vice-commerce minister Jiang Zengwei told a press conference. "Under these circumstances, I believe every country must energetically develop international trade. Why would one want to practice protectionism in the current market?"

But, according to the European Parliament, China must do a better job of opening its domestic markets to foreign suppliers.

A report by Dutch MEP Corien Wortmann-Kool said a "Chinese wall of trade barriers" was causing European firms to miss out on ?20 billion (£18 billion) of lost opportunities.

"We have to invest in China opening up its markets and fulfilling the WTO commitments in daily practice. Protectionism cannot be Europe's response to growth in EU-China relations," she said.

The report called on China to finalise its membership of the World Trade Organisation's Government Procurement Agreement, which it committed to joining in 2001, to ensure fair and equal treatment for foreign suppliers competing with domestic vendors.

"It ought to be borne in mind that the public procurement market in Europe, currently worth some ?1.9 trillion (£1.7 trillion), is already largely open to Chinese companies. It is therefore incumbent upon China to make the necessary efforts in this regard," it said.

SMfeb2009

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