Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Landsbergis welcomes the European Union’s request to establish a WTO panel against China: It’s an essential step towards the prevention of economic coercion in the future
On 7 December, the European Commission announced that it had requested the establishment of a World Trade Organization panel for trade dispute with China concerning the legality of the trade restrictions that China had introduced against Lithuanian and EU exports. The EU underlined that China’s restrictions were in breach of the WTO rules.
“We welcome the European Commission’s decision on behalf of the EU to request the WTO to establish a panel. This step sends another message to China: the EU will defend the single market and EU member states by all means against China’s politically motivated economic coercion,” Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister also stressed that Lithuania sought constructive relations with China. Still, China’s systematic violations of international trade rules and legitimate business interests can not be tolerated. Landsbergis noted that China had already had the opportunity to resolve the dispute during the WTO consultations but did not behave constructively. Therefore, establishing a panel was fair and defended the rule-based international trade order.
Landsbergis also noted that all EU member states had been consulted on the establishment of a panel.
“Illegal economic pressure, even if against just one EU member state, must be seen as an attack on the whole of the Union. Thus, the EU will protect its rights and use every possibility offered by international law,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister said.
According to Landsbergis, Lithuania through a joint effort with other member states achieved greater attention in the EU to preventing economic coercion. Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen possible response measures further and finalize the creation of an EU anti-coercion instrument as soon as possible.
Establishing a panel is the second stage of the WTO litigation process, during which three independent experts in trade law assess whether the measures taken by a WTO member conform with the WTO law. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the request to establish a panel on 20 December. China has the right to oppose the first request, in which case the decision on the establishment of a panel would be taken at a meeting due to take place on 27 January 2023.
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