Trade liberalisation and overall relationship

5 - Agreement with China on standards and norms, consumer protection

Grade: A-
Unity 5/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 7/10
Total 16/20

Long-term engagement with China is gradually leading to results on standards that matter to business and consumers. In 2010, the EU scored a success on standards for energy efficiency.

The EU has an interest in setting joint standards for toys, cars and mobile phones in order to facilitate trade. The EU has had some successes in the past, for example introducing the GSM standard for mobile phones and European standards for car exhausts. In fact, the EU has been more successful with China in this respect than with other Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea that have developed their own indigenous standards. On consumer safety, it aims to make sure that only safe food products enter the EU.

The EU has a plethora of working-level dialogues with China in these domains on which there has been ongoing cooperation in 2010. Europeans are unusually united on this issue and experts see the EU’s success rate as higher than that of the US, which has had more big scandals with Chinese food products.  Still, approximately 60 percent of all goods withdrawn from the EU market on security concerns are of Chinese origin (although the EU imports large quantities of goods from China).

On food safety, cooperation has now expanded into a trilateral dialogue with the US, and the latest meeting was held during the Shanghai Expo in August. One idea being discussed is a “seamless surveillance approach” linking export controls more closely with customs and shipping procedures and then with import checks at point of entry.There have also been some European concerns over import restrictions by the Chinese authorities of various food products such as meat, based on dubious claims and linked with references to Chinese standards that are not fully aligned with international Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) standards.

The EU scored a real success at the high-level economic dialogue in December when China acknowledged that following international and compatible standards for energy-efficient technologieswas an important area of economic cooperation.