China: we say no to market economy status
The Financial Times has today reported that the US government is pressing the European Commission not to grant China ‘Market Economy Status’ (MES), which under WTO rules would allow far more undercutting by Chinese exports into the EU. The UK government is on the record as a supporter of granting MES to China, but the TUC has repeatedly opposed the measure, as has the European Trade Union Confederation.
There must be a suspicion that the Conservative Government’s support for giving MES to China is in return for China’s support for government infrastructure plans. It certainly isn’t a reward for China’s trade record with the UK. Despite Chancellor George Osborne’s hope that the UK’s recovery will be sustained by increased exports to China, my colleague Geoff Tily has recorded how the UK’s export performance to China has faltered this year.
The TUC and ETUC position is backed by the Italian government, and Labour MEP David Martin – the trade spokesperson for the European Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats Group – tweeted today that
“It’s unfair on European producers to grant China MES until it functions as such.”
Granting China MES might cement George Osborne’s attempts to subsidise his infrastructure policies, but it would be yet another body blow to European manufacturing, as Chinese companies would be able to use the absence of free trade unions and free collective bargaining, state subsidies and currency manipulation to ‘dump’ surplus products on Europe – as they already have done to devastating effect on the UK steel industry.
We will campaign against the EU granting MES to China, and with support from European manufacturers and other EU governments, this is a campaign we can win. If it was left to the UK government, we’d already have lost.