Trade and Iran nuclear deal highlight EU-China strategic dialogue

EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy hold a joint press conference at the European Commission in Brussels, June 1, 2018.

With the Euro-Atlantic relationship on the rocks, cooperation between Brussels and Beijing takes on added strategic importance.


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The EU-China Strategic Dialogue in Brussels last week showed that both parties share views on multiple economic and security issues as international security, energy, and climate change were among the topics discussed by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and China’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Wang Yi.

The key issues on the agenda was how both Brussels and Beijing plan to move forward in an effort to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal and a way to deepen trade relations after US President Donald J. Trump unilaterally walked away from both after he pulled out of the landmark deal with Tehran and imposed stiff tariffs on steel and aluminium producers in the EU and China.

Trump’s irrational and unpredictable behaviour has unexpectedly forced Europe and China to engage in a new level of rapprochement despite significant lingering disagreements over human rights in China.

Speaking to journalists after the end of the first round of the talks, Mogherini said that geopolitical turbulence and the fragility of the international security architecture after Trump’s actions have forced the EU and China to seek closer cooperation in terms of trade. Mogherini also said that joint efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal and promote free trade has given an additional impetus to the EU when it comes to deepening its cooperation with the Chinese.

“We are determined to preserve the Iran nuclear deal and continue to share this commitment with China, whose role was and remains, essential in this deal,” Mogherini said. “We are also committed to continuing our joint support for the WTO (World Trade Organisation) as the rules-based multilateral trade system and we will cooperate to help reform the WTO so that it can meet the new global challenges.”

The EU’s Top diplomat also stressed that apart from common interests concerning international security and economic issues, the EU and China will continue with the further development of transport, logistics, and maritime links within the framework of the EU-China Connectivity Platform.

“We need to create a synergy between the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative and the EU’s own approach on sustainable connectivity between Europe and Asia…we agreed to explore ways in which we would complement each other in this regard,” Mogherini said.

Yi, who in March was promoted to become one of the Chinese Communist Party’s political elites as a State Councillor, reiterated China’s support for the EU’s active push to salvage the Iran nuclear deal and underlined the need to step up strategic cooperation in international affairs ‘to jointly safeguard the international multilateral system’.

“China and the EU continue to be beneficiaries of free trade and economic globalisation. We are both committed to the rules-based multilateral trade regime, as opposed to unilateralism and protection,” Yi said in reference to Trump’s decision to ignore international norms and regulations. “China and the EU will expand trade, investment and finance, as well as innovation and sustainable development.”

China is the EU’s second-largest trading partner after the United States. With the EU as China’s biggest trading partner, trade in goods between the EU and China in 2017 was worth well over €1 billion a day. EU exports to China amounted to €170 billion and imports to €345 billion in 2016.

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