Europe should have FTA with China: Italian official
Europe should consider having a free trade agreement (FTA) with China as the Asian country is playing a more constructive role in the world, Italy’s top trade official has said.
Deputy Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said he pushed for the start of FTA negotiations with China when he chaired a European trade ministers’ meeting in November in Brussels.
"I have introduced in a very clear way ... the issue of a possible start of the negotiation for a FTA with China," said Calenda.
"I think ... we need to start now because China is getting in the governance of the international trade a more mature role than in the past," he said.
Calenda said China is not an ordinary BRICS country given its size, importance in trade and development level.
He also highlighted the role China played in negotiations for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in the World Trade Organization (WTO), a major deal since the WTO was founded. Instead of opposing the TFA due to the conflict between North and South of the world, China facilitated the agreement, he said.
Based on the above-mentioned points, plus the fact that China is implementing its 12th five-year plan directed more towards a consumption economy and more attention to the environment, China should be involved by Europe in a discussion to open an FTA.
"Obviously it will be an epoch-making and complex process, I think we should start in June with all the prep-procedures, we have to ... define the size of the agreement and probably we will need a high-level group,"he said.
"I foresee 12-18 months to open the negotiations," he said, adding that "the relations between the EU and China are mature enough for a remarkable improvement."
Speaking of the EU’s trade defense measures, the Italian official said for Europe the anti-dumping measures should be the last "weapon" to use.
He said Europe should to do a "special" work of trade conflict prevention.
"We don’t have to wait for outbreak of the conflict but we should meet one time per year and identify the possible conflicts giving the possibility to China to adjust his production system in order to avoid dumping in Europe," he said.
On bilateral relations between Italy and China, Calenda said he would travel to China around March for a meeting of the mixed committee and there are a lot of topics on the agenda.
Chinese investment are growing and the cooperation with China is becoming increasingly positive, he said.
"We will launch an ’extraordinary plan’ about the ’Made in Italy’ that is going to focus also on China this year and for the next three years. I think that our bilateral relations are going to grow up very well," he said.