Germany urges China to walk like it talks on free trade

Embassy in Beijing says nation must open its markets to foreign companies to counter rising global protectionism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 11:50pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 11:50pm

Germany’s embassy in Beijing on Monday urged China to open its markets to foreign companies to counter rising global protectionism, ahead of President Xi Jinping’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Xi is expected to promote “inclusive globalisation” in his keynote address when he becomes the first Chinese president to attend the annual gathering of political leaders, chief executives and celebrities in the Swiss Alps this week.

That message will chime with the tone Xi struck at an Asia-Pacific forum in Peru in November, where leaders vowed to advance multilateral trade deals.

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Foreign businesses in China, however, have long complained about a lack of market access and government policies that run counter to Beijing’s pledges to continue to free up its markets.

Xi would be the “foremost international leader” at the forum, the embassy said, adding that the world needed “strong political leadership, strong political signals and, above all, credible action that shows we mean what we say ... about further opening”.

“The political leadership of China never ceases to assure us that further opening towards foreign investment, a level playing field between German and Chinese companies, as well as protection of intellectual property, is a priority,” the embassy said on its website.

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“However, many companies keep telling us that their difficulties in these areas have increased,” it added. “It often appears that somewhere down the line, political assurances of equal treatment give way to protectionist tendencies.”

Germany was willing to cooperate with China to fight protectionism and populism, and would “strongly welcome” a defence of open markets at the forum, it said.

This year’s Davos forum, running from today until Friday, is expected to be dominated by discussion of public hostility towards globalisation.