Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-05-12-Speech-4-009"

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". Mr President, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to respond to this debate. It is important. It raises some very serious issues for us, and I am very glad this initiative has been taken. I am also very grateful to the distinguished chairman of the Committee on International Trade for making his points in such a balanced and moderate, but no less serious way. In parallel, I have actively engaged with the Chinese authorities to give them advance warning wherever possible, to urge them to provide concrete evidence that the measures they have put in place are having an effect, and to explore whether they cannot do more and indeed to urge them to do so. I have launched informal consultations with China in an attempt to find a sustainable solution for all parties. This was high on my agenda last week in Paris when I met with the Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai. My message to Minister Bo was that to avoid the EU having to take action, China needs to give a stronger response to curb its export growth in the short term. I believe that my message was received loud and clear. I have noted the statements made by the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao yesterday in Beijing and I would like to welcome the fact that China now understands the acute concerns of certain Member States, as Wen Jiabao acknowledged yesterday in Beijing, and that China prefers, as he said, a solution based on dialogue and cooperation. I also welcome the fact that China considers the need to resolve this issue as amongst China’s primary interests in relation to the EU. I noted with particular interest the statement by Wen Jiabao that, in addition to the measures already taken to curb textiles export growth, China will take even stronger measures in the near future. I welcome this, but I also believe that the effects need to be felt quickly if they are to stay our hand in any action that we might consider taking. It is imperative that China explain in detail, and quickly, the type of additional measures it intends to adopt and what consequences these will have on future trade flows. I am looking forward to receiving such information as a matter of great urgency. Failing to receive such concrete information quickly would narrow the options available to the EU to resolve this issue and could leave me with no alternative other than to act under the WTO. I have a team of officials in Beijing this week. They are meeting Chinese counterparts as we speak now, to follow up on my discussions with Minister Bo last week and on yesterday’s statements by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Let me turn now to other matters concerning WTO implementation. This is important because the WTO agreement is the lynchpin for the development of our trade relations with China. China has made substantial progress in implementing its WTO commitments, as set out in its accession agreement, but some issues still raise concerns. I am addressing these in both a bilateral and multilateral context. Discussions have met with considerable success in a number of areas, in particular on coke, the construction and automobile sectors, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. However, concerns still remain in the automobile sector, in services sectors such as banking, and in telecommunications. I raised these and pursued them when I was in Beijing earlier this year and I will continue to do so. I accept that a particular area of concern is the need to ensure an adequate and efficient level of protection in China of intellectual property rights. China has shown willing, but the continuing difficulties encountered by European industry in terms of counterfeiting and piracy have made clear that more work is needed. I am addressing this issue on two fronts, using a combination of political pressure and cooperation, both bilaterally and on a multilateral level. I am determined to give practical answers to industry’s concerns. We took an important step forward when the Chinese recently agreed to my proposal to set up an Intellectual Property Working Group. The intention here is to address problems in a systemic way and on a sectoral basis. It will include experts from business who know where the delivery problems in China’s laws exist. But IPR is a worldwide problem, and it therefore requires consideration on a global level. Within the WTO, the EU, as well as the US and Japan, used the 2004 Transitional Review Mechanism to challenge China on its implementation record of its obligations in respect of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, otherwise known as TRIPs. The answers given by China demonstrate its commitment to the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, but further efforts are obviously needed and I am committed to helping China make those further efforts. The EU has also suggested that the Review Mechanism could be usefully complemented by a multilateral discussion within the TRIPs Council, and I intend to follow this up. But I also believe that continuing to share our expertise by providing technical assistance on intellectual property is an important element of our work with China. We have recently concluded an EC-China Agreement on customs cooperation. Another example of assistance is EU financing of training on trademarks for judges. These are just two instances of the sort of cooperation that will help China build a sound and coherent enforcement system. Finally, I would encourage European industry to make use of all available tools in the EU and in China to protect its own rights and put the system to the test. In conclusion, the level of cooperation and partnership that China and the EU are demonstrating in these areas are the building blocks for a dynamic and more effective relationship between us. Nobody should underestimate the huge potential gains and benefits for us in Europe of such a relationship growing and being soundly based. There are obviously going to be challenges ahead, and I will ensure that the EU responds in a timely and effective manner. But there will also be great opportunities for European industry and producers to supply into that rapidly expanding Chinese market. If we can work together to ensure that a rules-based economic system is respected and strengthened in the DDA, then the rapid economic growth in China will benefit the EU and the rest of the world. That is why in responding to the question originally put, I say again that we have to combine our short-term management of the problems that are thrown up by China’s expansion with a clear-sighted, longer-term perspective of the opportunities that China’s growth offers Europe. I agree that we have a great challenge on our hands to bring about the progressive integration of China to the global economy and to the international trading system. We also have a responsibility to those whom you represent, and to whom others of us are accountable and are answerable, to smooth these changes in the best way we possibly can. It is true that in one sense China is testing the limits of what is acceptable, as the honourable Member said. Another way of putting it, however, is that China is presenting a competitive challenge to us in Europe to which we need to adjust. Now many have. In some cases though that adjustment remains to be made and we have to assist people in doing so. My broad view is that China’s renaissance in recent years brings with it many implications for the European Union and it is essential that we equip ourselves properly to deal with these challenges. I believe that China’s astonishing economic growth will be good, not only for China but also for Europe and for the rest of the world. That makes it all the more important that we build the sort of dynamic relationship with China that is based on partnership, cooperation and respect, not just for each other, but for a rules-based multilateral economic system. It is against that backcloth that I want to address two sets of issues this morning: first of all, the appropriate response we need to make to textiles imports from China and, secondly, what we need to do to continue to push China on its WTO implementation record and in particular its record of enforcement of intellectual property rights. I shall first address the issue of textiles. The level of textiles imports and the dramatic increase that we have seen since the beginning of this year, when textile quotas were finally removed, has become a very sensitive topic in many of our Member States. There are many who have serious concerns and anxieties. It is clear why and I understand those anxieties. I am confident that our response is both appropriate and proportionate, but also legally defensible. We have to satisfy both those requirements, basing our response on facts and data. We need to act with a degree of caution, but also determination. The Commission guidelines on the use of a safeguard mechanism were intended to equip us to respond effectively to any unreasonable surge in imports from China. As I am sure you know, the Commission has now launched investigations into nine categories of Chinese textile exports to the EU based on import statistics for the first quarter of this year. In all these categories, import volumes for Chinese textiles have now risen above the ‘alert levels’ defined by the Commission. I always said that I would act on the basis of the relevant data and I am doing so now. Now that the alert mechanism has been activated, I have set up an experienced task force to conduct a full and rapid investigation into these named categories. It will reach its conclusions within a maximum of 60 days. This investigation will determine whether market disruption in Europe and elsewhere really has occurred. We will also have to consider the actual damage to producer interests, set against the consumer benefits involved. If it proves necessary and justified, I will use the safeguard powers at our disposal. A number of other categories appear to give cause for concern, but after careful consideration I have decided that further analysis of the data is required. This is being undertaken. In addition, there have been requests for the application of the urgency procedure foreseen by the guidelines. This would mean going directly to formal consultations with China under the WTO without an investigation, if there is evidence that irreparable damage will be caused to EU industry in the absence of such a course of action. My services are currently analysing these requests."@en1

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