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Hollande, Trump agree to try 'clarify positions'
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Nov 11, 2016

EU cannot be 'naive' on China dumping
Brussels (AFP) Nov 11, 2016 - European Union trade ministers said Friday they must not be "naive" in the face of alleged China price dumping, as they try to agree tougher measures to fight unfairly low prices.

"Europe cannot be naive and must protect its interests especially when it comes to dumping," said Peter Ziga, the trade minister from Slovakia, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency.

The 28 ministers meeting in Brussels are looking to agree on a new method to assess whether Chinese exporters are unfairly flooding the European market with their products.

But within the EU, the tougher proposals have been rejected by free-trade purists such as Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands that fear a move towards protectionism and angering China.

Steelmakers are especially keen for the changes after being battered by a collapse in prices due to China-led oversupply and a wave of cheap imports.

About 15,000 steelworkers protested in Brussels on Wednesday demanding that the EU pass the tougher rules.

"Whether we can reach an agreement today or not, I don't really know, but it is in the process. If not today, I see it quite soon," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said as she arrived for the talks.

These extra defences are key as China in December is widely expected to receive the official World Trade Organization designation of Market Economy Status (MES).

This new standing means that China's trade partners will no longer be allowed to use alternative methods to measure potential price dumping, handing much more power in trade fights to Beijing.

To counter this, the European Commission's proposal introduces several criteria to assess trade partners, such as state policies and influence, the widespread presence of state-owned companies and the independence of the financial sector.

Beijing on Thursday said the EU's tougher proposals were wrong, leaving China as a "surrogate country" in the eyes of the WTO.

"These new measures have no basis in World Trade Organization rules," said China's commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang, adding that the EU was illegally stripping China of its WTO rights.

The EU has had a series of trade skirmishes with China, its second-largest trading partner.

China makes more than half the world's steel and is accused of massive dumping as its own market slows sharply.

US president-elect Donald Trump and French President Francois Hollande vowed in a telephone call Friday to try to "clarify positions" on potentially thorny issues including climate change, French presidential sources said.

In a first call lasting 7-8 minutes the two leaders discussed the fight against terrorism, the battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the Paris climate accord, a French presidential source told AFP.

The two men expressed a "desire to work together," the source added.

Climate change denier Trump has caused alarm in France by pledging to withdraw from the landmark deal to tackle global warming struck in Paris in December 2015.

The French also took a dim view of Trump's claim that the terror attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris a year ago this week might have been avoided if the country had looser gun laws.

But in their talks Hollande and Trump sought common ground, emphasising the friendship between their countries and the "history and values" they share, the source said.

Hollande, who is battling record low approval ratings ahead of presidential elections in France next year, had vowed a "frank" discussion with the Republican.

"Donald Trump has been elected. My duty is to ensure that we have the best relations but on the basis of frankness and clarity," Hollande told France 2 television earlier.

On Wednesday, he had warned that Trump's stunning election win "opens a period of uncertainty".

Hollande had made no secret of his desire to see Hillary Clinton win the White House, declaring a few months ago that Trump's excesses "make you want to retch".

- 'Close cooperation' with Germany -

His call with Trump came a day after talks between the forthcoming US president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel congratulated Trump and said she looked forward to meeting him, at the latest, when Germany hosts a G20 summit in July in the northern port city of Hamburg.

Merkel had offered Trump "close cooperation" and "stressed that Germany and the United States of America are closely tied through common values," her spokesman Georg Streiter said.

On Wednesday, Merkel had issued a first statement on Trump's election, in which she pointedly said cooperation must be based on shared democratic values and respect for human dignity and reminded him of the global responsibility he carries.

Meanwhile the Spanish government said Friday that Trump's election "opens a period of uncertainty" although his first steps have been in the right direction.

"With respect to the new president of the United States it is true that it opens a period of a period of uncertainty," government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo told a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting.

Trump's conciliatory victory speech as well as his meeting with outgoing US President Barack Obama where they appeared to det aside past animosity "go in the right direction", the spokesman added.

"We know the president elect in political terms from what he said during the campaign" but "during election campaigns sometimes things are said that are not easy to implement," Mendez de Vigo said.

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