EU, China Will Meet Next Month to Discuss Global Trade Tensions

(Bloomberg) -- European Union officials will meet with their Chinese counterparts next month in Beijing to discuss possible reforms to the World Trade Organization amid an escalating conflict that’s ensnared some of the world’s largest economies.

The European Commission’s Director General for Trade Jean-Luc Demarty will meet with Wang Shouwen, China’s vice minister of commerce, in mid-October to discuss ways to update WTO rules, unblock its dispute settlement mechanism, as well as global tensions overall, according to Marc Vanheukelen, the EU’s ambassador to the WTO.

This will be the first meeting of the EU-China working group on trade, which was established after a July summit between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The gathering comes as President Donald Trump seeks to reduce the influence of multilateral organizations such as the WTO and recast trade relationships that he deems unfair to the U.S.

At the July summit, Tusk said the aim of the reform effort should be to “strengthen the WTO as an institution and to ensure a level playing field.”

“The two sides are strongly committed to fostering an open world economy, improving trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, resisting protectionism and unilateralism, and making globalization more open, balanced, inclusive, and beneficial to all,” according to a joint statement after the meeting.

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