By William James
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Friday said China had contributed to an erosion of trust in the global trade system, offering to work with the European Union, Japan the United States and others to clamp down on what it sees as unfair subsidies for state-owned enterprises.
Trade minister Liz Truss, who is in charge of building Britain’s new trade links around the world following its exit from the European Union, made the comments at a World Economic Forum online panel event titled “Fixing International Trade”.
“Some of the behaviour by China on areas like forced technology transfer, subsidies by state-owned enterprises, and also IP (Intellectual Property) violations have led to some of the mistrust in the global trading system,” she said.
“People can see things are unfair, that if state-owned enterprises are able to subsidise and able to undermine free enterprise economies, then that can destroy trust in trade.”
Relations between Britain and China have cooled in recent years, from London heavily courting Chinese investment in British infrastructure in 2015 to last year banning telecoms firm Huawei from parts of the UK communications network and tightening rules on foreign investment over national security concerns.
Truss also repeated calls for World Trade Organisation (WTO) reform, saying its paralysed dispute resolution system must be upgraded, the blocks to the appointment of a new head must be removed, and trust restored in its procedures.
“Big countries, small countries, need to understand that they are going be treated fairly under the WTO system, and that the