Wallenberg warns against using the coronavirus as an excuse for protectionism
A major European industrialist said that EU politicians are using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to implement protectionism in areas such as vaccine production and masks.
The Swedish business leader Jacob Wallenberg’s family controls a large number of shares in companies such as AstraZeneca, Ericsson, ABB and Nasdaq. He told the Financial Times that the vaccine is in the “real The “international level” works well, and most of the masks come from China.
He said that it was too much to use it as an “excus for returning.” “When I listened to politicians talking about the concept of backflow, I heard the notion that Europe should do more at home. My concern is that you will eventually become more protectionist.”
The European Commission and leading politicians believe that the EU should have “open strategic autonomy” in certain sectors and trade areas to ensure that the region has an independent supply chain.
As the head of the Trade and Market Access Committee of the European Industry Roundtable-a panel of 60 chief CEOs and chairs from the European continent-Wallenberg warned that this strategy has the potential to impact the global supply chain. Caused obstacles, and this actually helped Europe to tide over the difficulties of the pandemic.
The Swedish industrialist said: “Every country is discussing starting to produce vaccines, including my own country.” “I think vaccines are handled on a truly international level, and that’s why we get vaccines as soon as possible. , Avoiding autonomy is very important.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, France decided to confiscate millions of masks shipped to other parts of the European Union by Mölnlycke owned by the Wallenberg family holding company, which disturbed both the industrialist and the Swedish government.
In May, the European Commission announced an update to its industrial strategy, calling for action to address vulnerabilities in the supply chain discovered during the pandemic. The committee identified 137 products in the most sensitive ecosystems—such as raw materials, batteries, pharmaceutical ingredients, hydrogen, semiconductors, and cloud technology—in which the EU is highly dependent on imports from third countries, especially China.
In a report released on Monday, the European Roundtable warned that any intervention aimed at increasing the resilience of European supply chains — even on key commodities — “should be the exception, not the rule”.
It called for European supply chains to be more open and to strengthen contacts with industry in relations with China, despite increasing tensions due to the repression in Hong Kong and violations of human rights in Xinjiang.
Earlier this year, the interests of the Wallenberg family received continuous attention after Sweden banned Huawei from entering the 5G network.
Wallenberg, who has publicly criticized Sweden’s ban on Huawei, said that the only way out is to “find common ground” with China. He said that as the world’s second largest economy, China is “our very important partner.” “Another option, stop doing this… It’s a dramatic change in the world.”
Nevertheless, he added that the EU needs to be prepared to protect its companies from unfair practices. He said: “I think the important thing is that the EU must take a strong stance and stand up for it.”
Wallenberg welcomes European initiatives to examine foreign investment more closely.
“I think it is very appropriate for us to have tools of this nature. I think it is a matter of ensuring that you can apply the principles of fair competition,” he said. “If we end up in a situation where this method doesn’t work… Of course we have to bear the consequences.”
The European Roundtable called on Brussels to set up a specialized agency to manage China’s relations.
He emphasized that although the United States is still an important strategic partner, Europe should not “copy and paste” Washington’s more aggressive stance on relations with China. He said that Europe must “stand on its own feet.”