EU Trade Chief Valdis Dombrovskis says Bloc doesn’t Intend to Decouple from China

·         ‘De-risking is not decoupling,’ says European Commission EVP ahead of high-level talks to shore up shrinking trade

·         Brussels and Beijing should work together on climate change and global issues, but EU ‘needs to protect itself’ when its ‘openness is abused’, he says

European Commission trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis has told China that the bloc does not intend to decouple from the country, one of its largest trading partners.

“ De-risking is not decoupling. And the EU has no intention of decoupling from China,” Dombrovskis said when addressing the Bund Summit in Shanghai on Saturday, ahead of a high-stakes dialogue with Chinese leaders including vice-premier He Lifeng next week in Beijing.

Dombrovskis vowed to step up ties with China to manage trade issues and address global crises such as climate change. But he also stressed the EU should minimise dependencies for “a select number of strategic products” and act in a proportionate and targeted way to maintain the bloc’s “open strategic autonomy”.

“We have to protect ourselves in situations when [our] openness is abused,” Dombrovskis said.

He cited trade figures that showed that the EU racked up a deficit of almost €400 billion (US$426 billion) out of a total trade volume of €865 billion last year.

Two-way trade also dropped 7.8 per cent in US dollar terms in the first eight months, according to Chinese customs authorities.

Both sides have a long list of gripes and demands as Beijing and Brussels navigate a complex geopolitical situation.

The EU has long complained about the trade deficit and a lack of fair access to the Chinese market. The bloc has also prodded Beijing to cooperate on climate change and the conflict in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the EU’s talk of “de-risking” has caused consternation in China, with Beijing demanding clarification as Brussels appears more hawkish in aligning with Washington’s combative approach towards China.