All entries for Sunday 24 April 2005

April 24, 2005

Peter Mandelson & the EU

This BBC article on EU trade with China came to my attention via Shards, who asks whether itís ethical to engage in trade with a country which doesnít adhere to our human rights standards. Thatís a valid question, but not one Iíll address yet.

Some points from the article –

According to figures from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), China made 17% of the world's textiles in 2003, but this is expected to rise above 50% within three years.

And data from the European Commission itself shows that imports of Chinese T-shirts into EU member states rose by 164% in the first three months of this year, while imports of pullovers leapt by 534%.

Mr Mandelson said that while the EU probe would continue, he urged China to unilaterally take the necessary action to reduce its exports.

"I urge China to take a fresh look at the measures they have put in place already and explore whether they cannot do more," he said.

Mr Mandelson's comments came after the French industry minister Patrick Devedjian said some 7,000 French textile jobs could be at risk unless China limited its exports.

"The situation is very serious … for our businesses which make these products, which have already been suffering for a number of years," said Mr Devedjian.

Full article here.

I may be misunderstanding things, but it appears the EU wants China to actively prevent the sale of goods which of which it is the most competitive producer, to firms who are voluntarily choosing to buy them. Their reason? Domestic textile producers are unable to compete effectively. While they're at it, why not ask the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico to kindly cease sending over goods which could possibly reduce the job security of a minority of workers.

Itís worrying that our EU trade commissioner is displaying such juvenile, backward thinking. Once again, the desire to protect firms with political clout supersedes considerations of the consumer and the welfare of countries other than our own.

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