June 2, 2017 / 4:37 PM / 3 months ago

EU, China fail to agree on steel, trade dumping at summit

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) pose during the EU-China Business Summit at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, Belgium June 2, 2017.Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and China failed on Friday to reach agreement on the problem of steel overcapacity and the EU's stance towards Chinese dumping, despite "narrowing differences".

China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of steel, vowed last year to reduce its capacity but European steelmakers have complained that cheap Chinese exports are still flooding the market.

Juncker told a news conference after a meeting of EU officials with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that they had discussed the issue of steel overcapacity and China's demand that, 15 years after it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) it should no longer be treated as a special case.

"We were able to narrow the positions but we are not yet there," Juncker said.

A person present at the talks said that China had insisted on having a specific reference in a concluding text on the WTO issue. China also declined to include phrases referring to ways to resolve the problem of steel overcapacity, the person said.

For a second year running, the EU-China summit failed to agree a final statement.

The European Union and many of China's other trading partners have debated whether to treat China now as a "market economy", which would make it more difficult to impose anti-dumping duties.

China has launched a legal challenge against the EU's existing anti-dumping rules at the WTO, although the bloc is in the process of changing its rules on combating dumping.

Li repeated that WTO rules had to be implemented and the EU should accept China's situation in the WTO had changed.

"This will send a signal to society and the market that we both abide by international rules and abide by multilateralism," Li said, although added that the new EU rules might satisfy Beijing.

"The European side indicated they are in the middle of a legislative amendment and it is consistent with WTO rules. It is non-discriminatory."

Reporting by Robin Emmott and Camille Bottin, writing by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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