Saturday, January 2, 2021

The EU Is At Risk Of Becoming Subservient To China

Europe Cannot Out-trade China
The EU is taking the path of strengthening its ties to China in the hope it will spark an economic renaissance. The Euro-Zone was already in deep trouble before CoVid-19 hit. Argue as you may but the bout of economic weakness that started in 2017 never ended. The latest scheme cooked up by Brussels seems more of its policy to extend and pretend all is well. The EU abandoned all structural reforms in 2014 when the ECB started its quantitative easing program (QE) and expanded the balance sheet to record-levels. Playing into Europe's problems is that in 2019, almost 22% of the Euro Zone GDP gross added value came from Travel & Leisure, a sector that will unlikely come back anytime soon. 

To avoid the union coming apart at the seams the European Commission last year unveiled an unprecedented  €750BN CoVid-19 recovery plan. It consisted of €500 billion in grants to member states and €250 billion in loans. This means those in Brussels are seeking a major extension of their power to where they can borrow money under the premise it will aid in ending the worst recession in European history and at the same time shore up Italy. This would result in transforming the EU’s governing body in Brussels by allowing it to raise unprecedented sums on the capital markets to shore up hard-pressed EU countries. 

Roughly 80% of the Euro-Zone's real economy is financed by a banking sector that carries more than 600 billion euro in non-performing loans. Unemployment is also a problem, almost 30% of the Euro Zone labor force is expected to be under some form of unemployment scheme for years. France, Spain, and Italy, with important rules and tax burdens on job creation, may suffer large unemployment for even longer. As of 2017, not a single European company ranked among the top fifteen technology companies in the world and only four of the top 50 global technology companies are European. This is why skeptics are concern that if the politically directed "Green New Deal" agenda doesn't boost growth or reduce debt the Euro-Zone will remain economically stagnate.

The elephant in the room is that the Euro-zone region simply isn't competitive. The EU lacks technological and intellectual property and is falling further behind the U.S. and China. Germany, the regions manufacturing powerhouse continues to skirt along narrowly escaping recession while France, Spain, and Italy face years of large unemployment levels. It was clear that the EU was struggling in the spring of 2020 when the European Commission sharply revised lower its economic growth forecast for the area due to Covid-19. So far, the European Commission's expectations its economy would rapidly rebound have been dashed by a second wave of the pandemic. 

To generate the impression of hope the EU's leaders in Brussels are trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat by strengthening ties with China. The Guardian recently reported that China and the EU now appear to have resolved their differences over protecting labor rights in China and are set to sign a long-delayed investment agreement. This would strengthen ties between them and make the economies of the two blocs more interdependent. The investment talks address opening up Chinese markets for European investment, as well as addressing Chinese practices opposed by the EU concerning industrial subsidies, state control of enterprises, and forced technology transfers. 

A sticking point for the talks launched in 2013, has been the treatment of Uighur Muslims, and the systematic suppression of free speech in Hong Kong. At the heart of these talks has been the EU's concern about these issues and how to enforce and arbitrate other parts of the agreement. It must be noted the same members of the European parliament have in the recent past passed resolutions condemning the use of forced labor in China must ratify the agreement. Also, America and the incoming Biden administration are far from happy about the EU-China comprehensive investment agreement which signifies a significant shift in EU policy towards Asia.

The proposed deal dovetails with Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative and follows the signing of an agreement made with Italy which is viewed by many as bankrupt. Last year, in what might be considered a bold move the Italian Prime Minister signed a historic memorandum of understanding with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Rome. The agreement made Italy the first founding EU  member, and the first G-7 nation, to officially sign on to OBOR in hopes it would shore up its weak prospects. The ramifications flowing from Italy's deal with China may, in the end, prove to be a deal with the devil. 

The key motivation behind China working to reach a deal with poor, weak, but lovable Italy was its desire to exploit Italy and use it as a backdoor into the broader Euro-Zone market. The deal China and Italy inked contained development deals covering everything from port management, science and technology, e-commerce, and even soccer. The reality is that China is eager for control of entry points into the European Union that can be lawfully expanded upon. This does not bode well for the region.

While in the past, Europe has enjoyed a trade surplus with America year after year this has not been the case when it comes to China. According to data from Eurostat, the EU had a 153 billion euro ($180.3 billion) surplus with the U.S. (meaning it exported more to the U.S. than it imported) in 2019. The European Union is China's second-largest trading partner but imports far more from China than it imports. These sort of numbers are not outliers but certification of a trend that has been growing for years. Simply put America has been carrying Europe on its back and the money and wealth that flows from America to Europe quickly finds its way to Asia. 

Below are the import and export figures with China from 2018 in billions of US dollars.

 United States,  Total trade 583.3  Exports 429.7  Imports   153.9  Trade Deficit  275.8

 European Union,  Total Trade  573.08  Exports  375.1   Imports  197.9  Trade Deficit 177.1

It could be argued Brussels is leading the EU into an ambush, Europe cannot hold its own against China. In the past, both the United States and the European Union have complained that China wants free trade without playing fair. To think China is a tiger that has suddenly changed its stripes borders on insanity. This treaty will not correct the market imbalance or give Europe the same level of market access or non-discriminatory environment investors seek. They will find this is not the first time that China signs such an agreement without respecting it. Europe which has seen its manufacturing sector debased by cheap knockoffs from China and other low-wage countries will find little comfort in bringing more of these goods into their market.

It could be argued the Chinese system is geared to exploit. China's state-run economy is based on a predatory business model that is geared to expand by crushing the competition. China is determined to move into high-tech products and its plan centers around both state-owned and private firms investing in and acquiring foreign companies to steal their technological innovations. Subsidizing those companies working within its system in a multitude of ways helps China achieve this goal. This is not going to change, China exports goods at slightly below cost in order to draw manufacturing jobs from other countries. Those of us with such a view of China contend the move towards closer ties with China may hasten the demise of Europe.

Below are a few links to other article relating to China and the situations contained above.

Republishing this article is welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog


  1. "The U.S. goods trade deficit with China was $345.2 billion in 2019."

    "The [China]trade deficit remained throughout the whole
    period, reaching EUR 163 billion in 2019"

    " Japan logs trade deficit for second year amid weak demand from China. Japan logged a goods trade deficit of ¥1.64 trillion ($14.95 billion) in 2019, marking a second straight year of red ink..."

    Willing participation in markets has consequences.

  2. Good article. Most European nations are so desperate for money that they'll make a deal with the devil to get their hands on some. For example, Italy signed on to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative to get some desperately needed foreign investment, but they don't seem to care that China isn't providing this investment for nothing - there will be a price to pay down the road. Everything China does is for China's own interest - it is not benevolent in any way and only seeks to dominate. One could make a similar argument for most countries, i.e. that they all act in their own interest, but China goes further than that by cheating, stealing, spying, and using predatory business practices. Just like our own politicians and administrations have harmed our manufacturing sector and sold out millions of Americans for the past 30 years based on the false hope that China would play fair and open their markets, the European politicians seem to now be making the same mistake. It's astounding that they have learned nothing from our bad experience, but there you go. China IMO is more dangerous than the Soviet Union ever was.

  3. This article is simply proof that Americans are worried about Europe escaping their control. Europeans are educated enough and smart enough to be competitive whenever they decide to so become. Free of the US pressure and free to trade with Russia and China, Europe will prosper.

    1. I beg to differ in that what those in Brussels want may be different from what the people in various countries might desire. Not everyone in the region holds the EU in high regard.

      It should be noted that America's influence has resulted in over 75 years of peace and prosperity. This was a key factor in allowing the Union to form.

  4. Replies
    1. The above states: "Now we should study Chinese."

    2. It is not sure that all will be rosy for China.
      They have an aging population; Obesity is on the rapid rise (perhaps future generations, sated, will lack the drive to work 15 hours a day); their African adventures will probably turn out to be loss-makers; they seem to lack the maverick rebellious geniuses that America occasionally gives us.
      I think we are over probably over-stating the power of China.

    3. "I think we are over probably over-stating the power of China."

      People need to remember that China are doing and making the same stupid mistakes as the US. In fact all major financial economies are tied together at the hip and are eerily employing the same financial, economy and monetary policies.

      Last but not least is China who created the world's first Fiat currency by issuing paper money. So these guys know the game and how it's played. And in the end all paper money finds its true value which is ZERO.

      China might succeed the USA as the world's next financial superpower but they will eventually meet the same fate as everyone else in world history.

  5. It is good that the EU attempt to sever connections with the US.
    From 1945 to 1989 (fall of Berlin Wall), the US was there to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". We Europeans got a free ride with the US guaranteeing our peace here in Europe, and, in return, the US grew in influence.
    All in all, the US was a force for good during these 50 years, and we (us Europeans) should be thankful.

    This has changed now. The US is at war with itself, democracy has become a joke influenced directly by fraud and indirectly by the media, it has given away its manufacturing base and its IP (in spite of attracting the most brilliant researchers), it keeps ramming wokeness, LGBT rights, BLM and other nonsense down our throats.
    I once admired America (the people and their courage, the landscape, etc.) but now it has become a cancer.
    So, step one, disentangle ourselves from the US, and step two, dissolve Brussels.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. The United States spend about 30 billion dollars a year on European defense. The Europeans are wealthy enough to provide their own defense. Of course we should cooperate with each other on defense, but each should pay their own way. Good luck getting rid of the power-hungry, supranational European Union. Just look to the U.S. as an example of how a federal govt. can get so expensive and out of control. I wouldn't call America a "cancer", that's insulting and over the top.

  6. "I beg to differ in that what those in Brussels want may be different from what the people in various countries might desire."

    Bullseye !!! people usually have no say in what their elected, or unelected, representatives decide for them.

    China comes in for a great deal of criticism in this piece:
    [10th paragraph in," China has used barely credible chicanery...", then on and off in this lengthy article ]