EU Commissioner Presses China On Trade Issues

'It is not our intention to trigger a trade war,' EU says.

China must respect a reciprocal extension of trade relations, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said Monday in an interview as conflicts grew between the two major economic powers.

De Gucht, who is from Belgium, told the German business daily Handelsblatt that China must adhere to the principle of "reciprocal opening" of trade or long-term exchanges could not exist.

"Conditions in (Chinese) public markets must change," he stressed.

On Friday, French junior trade minister Pierre Lellouche also pressed China to open up its public markets and end subsidies that affected prices of Chinese companies.

"Chinese subsidies are a big problem, in our opinion," De Gucht said Monday.

"They are indirect ways of supporting exports. We use legitimate means according to WTO rules to sanction abuse behaviour," he added in reference to the World Trade Organization.

The EU commission said: "We naturally want to have trade relations with China," and emphasised that "it is not our intention to trigger a trade war."

The EU decided this month to impose additional taxes on coated fine paper made in China, and Beijing retaliated by raising its own taxes on European starch, which is used to make paper.

EU-China trade has surged in recent years, making the EU the top destination for Chinese exports while China is Europe's second-biggest trade partner after the United States.

But the two sides have also been at loggerheads over a string of issues ranging from metal fasteners to modems to ceramic tiles.

Copyright by Agence France-Presse, 2011

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