The German economy minister has described China as a partner and competitor. He said it is time to establish better trade rules that don't put European companies at a disadvantage.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on Wednesday signed a cooperation agreement with Chinese Market Regulation Minister Xiao Yaqing at the start of a three day visit.
"China and the European Union are partners, but also competitors," Altmaier said. "We need a level playing field, without discrimination and disadvantages."
EU member states, including Germany, are hoping to establish better trade terms as the US pursues a costly trade war with China.
With €199 billion ($223 billion) in trade volume exchanged between both countries in 2018, China remains Germany's largest trade partner.
New world, new rules
Altmaier said he also planned to discuss strengthening investment rules between China and the EU. Over the past two decades, Germany has been a prime destination for Chinese investment, making it one of the EU countries to benefit most from such schemes.
But with an ongoing US-led trade war, the situation has changed. The new European Commission would need to draw up a bloc-wide industrial policy that better represents member states interests, especially as it concerns China, Altmaier said.
During his visit, the German economy minister is expected to meet with Commerce Minister Zhong Shan as well as Industry and Information Technology Minister Miao Wei. On Thursday, he will meet with Chinese Deputy Premier Liu He, who is also the chief negotiator in trade talks with the US.
It is Altmaier's second visit to China in two months. In April, he attended a summit on the Belt and Road Initiative summit, Beijing's ambitious infrastructure project to bolster trade links to Europe and Africa. At the time, he called for a speedy end to the US-China trade war.
ls/rt (dpa, Reuters)