Thursday, July 25, 2024

Commentary: The EU has a chicken feet problem with China

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Beijing has already opened an investigation into alleged dumping of brandy that would mainly hit France, which pressed European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to levy the vehicle tariffs.

Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, a director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, said the choice of pork, which impacts Germany, could be “a personal attack against von der Leyen”.

He also expected “retaliation in dairy, cheeses and other food items that are typical export staples for France and Italy”.

The trade surplus in food and drink was around €6 billion in 2023, a sixfold increase in a decade. In that time European farmers have increased their flocks to serve this burgeoning market as domestic subsidies are cut back.

John Clarke, the former chief agricultural trade negotiator for the European Commission, said the Chinese were well aware of the sensitivities after more than a year of farm protests over falling incomes. He thinks drinks could come next.

Removing these barriers will also come at a price.

“When a European leader goes to Beijing to get the market reopened for steak they have to give a gift in return,” Clarke said. “We sell them the port of Piraeus (in Greece), they buy feta cheese and yoghurt.”

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