Brussels challenges China to WTO over blocking Lithuanian imports

The European Union has filed a lawsuit against China at the World Trade Organization over its de facto ban on exports from Lithuania in the Taiwan dispute.

move increase tension The conflict between the world’s two largest economies, embroiled in a conflict over steel and the treatment of China’s Muslim Uighur minority.

Brussels said China had been blocking imports of products containing Lithuanian ingredients from Lithuania and other EU member states since December.

“These actions appear to be discriminatory and illegal under WTO rules and are harming exporters in Lithuania and the rest of the EU,” the European Commission said.

Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis added: “Following numerous failed attempts to resolve the issue bilaterally, we believe there is no other way but to call for WTO dispute settlement consultations with China.

“The EU is determined to act in solidarity and act swiftly against measures that violate WTO rules that threaten the integrity of our single market. We are simultaneously engaging in diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation.”

The problems started after Vilnius allowed the opening of a representative office in Taiwan. Beijing considers the island part of its territory and takes action against those who formally recognize its existence.

Other EU countries set up Taipei representative offices in the name of Taiwan’s capital to avoid disputes with China.China stripped diplomat Diplomatic status from the Baltic states, causing them to flee, and preventing imports.

The commission said it had evidence that Beijing refused to clear Lithuanian goods through customs, rejected Lithuanian import applications and put pressure on EU companies to remove Lithuanian parts from their supply chains.that affected German tire company ContinentalYes, wait.

Taiwan has been buying many items that China has shut out of, and has set up a $200 million investment fund for the country. Trade with China is worth 300 million euros a year.

The EU has few legal tools to fight back. It has proposed but not yet ratified an anti-coercion instrument that would allow the committee to take urgent tit-for-tat measures, such as an import ban.

The WTO negotiations will last for 60 days, after which the EU can ask for a ruling panel that will take months to rule but could allow Brussels to impose retaliatory tariffs. If the decision goes against China, it can block punishment by appealing. The appeal cannot be heard because the U.S. has blocked the appointment of any members of the Appellate Body.

Several member states were reluctant to support Lithuania, which they felt unnecessarily angered China. especially Germany Anxious to maintain access to the lucrative Chinese market.

“There is a modus operandi for Taiwan’s negotiation in the EU. Lithuania had not consulted with any member states before making this decision and is now demanding unconditional solidarity From EU member states,” said one EU diplomat, who warned that the bloc should not allow relations with China to be driven by “ad hoc events”.

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