European Union lawyers have concluded that China should be formally designated a “market economy” at the end of next year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing EU officials.
Beijing and its allies argue that China’s 2001 agreement to join the World Trade Organization requires countries to give China market-economy treatment 15 years later, in December 2016.
If the EU recognizes China as a market economy, it would be more difficult for Europe to impose steep tariffs on low-priced Chinese goods, the newspaper said.
European industries have been complaining that China is using various forms of government subsidies to boost exports and undercut overseas competition.
The European Commission’s legal service has circulated its confidential opinion within the institution in recent weeks, officials said.
“The legal service is of the opinion that it would be unwise not to grant market-economy treatment to China,” a senior EU official was quoted as saying.
However, the opinion doesn’t necessarily indicate what position the commission itself will take on the issue, commission spokesman Daniel Rosario said.
He declined to comment on the substance of the opinion.
The commission is currently reviewing the legal implications of China’s WTO accession treaty.
“This will take some time,” Rosario said.
The United States, China’s second-biggest trading partner, is also set to examine the issue in the coming months. The Office of the US Trade Representative declined to comment.
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