Around 5000 workers from 19 European countries are expected to march through Brussels today to protest against Chinese dumping and their contentious bid for Market Economy Status (MES).
As many as 3.5 million EU jobs and €228 billion in annual GDP may be at risk from granting MES to China prematurely, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Beijing believes that, according to the terms of its World Trade Organisation (WTO) accession agreement signed in 2001, it should automatically qualify for MES by the end of 2016.
Ahead of today’s march, Gerd Götz, Director General of European Aluminium, said; “The EU must examine the potential consequences of granting MES status to China in detail. We owe it to workers in all the industries in Europe that stand to lose their jobs as a result of imports below the costs of production.”
Götz warned that "getting it wrong" could irrevocably damage the competitiveness and innovativeness of European industries as well as increasing unemployment.
"Worse still, he said, "Europe’s technical and moral leadership on climate change will be forfeit. Don’t MES around. We need to have an open debate about Chinese dumping."
Milan Nitzschke, spokesperson for AEGIS Europe, an alliance of about 30 European industrial sectors, said, “We are marching on Brussels today to give a clear message to EU policy-makers ‘Say YES to jobs & fair trade; and say NO to MES for China!’”
When China joined the WTO in 2001, it was classed as a planned economy with artificially low prices. It was required it to be treated as a "non-market economy" for 15 years. The Chinese long held the view that once the 15 years were up in 2016, they would automatically be granted MES.
China's hopes were given an unexpected boost following an announcement by the European Commission's legal services that, "it would be unwise not to grant market economy treatment to China."