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Competition: Commissioner Vestager meets Chinese counterparts in Beijing to discuss competition policy and economic reform (18/03/2016)


During her visit to Beijing on 16-17 March, Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager had various meetings with her counterparts in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom), the Ministry of State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), and the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC), to discuss cooperation on competition issues between the EU and China, as well as China's reform agenda.

The meetings took place against the background of the release of China's 13th Five Year Plan last year, which will steer China's transition to a more sustainable economic model until 2020, including by defining the role of the market and restructuring the economy to tackle overcapacity. Competition policy plays a central role in this context.

Following her meetings, Commissioner Vestager said: "The meetings confirmed our shared interest in strengthening our cooperation on competition matters. They provided me with a first-hand sense of the challenges and urgency of China's reform—in particular the ambition to let the market shape the economy, for domestic and foreign operators alike. I believe the European experience of building our open single market and our history of restructuring and liberalising a number of sectors contains useful ideas in this respect. In particular, I shared with my Chinese counterparts the Commissions experiences as enforcer of state aid control within the single market."

The mechanisms to ensure fairness and transparency were a common denominator of the exchanges.

In particular, Commissioner Vestager met with Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng to discuss merger review in China and the EU, also in the context of the recent cooperation framework signed in October 2015. This guidance has established best practices to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the EU and China on reviewing mergers, allowing the Commission and Mofcom to share information and discuss timetables at key stages of investigations, to increase their efficiency.

Commissioner Vestager also met with Minister of the SAIC Zhang Mao to discuss ongoing cooperation and competition enforcement in the two jurisdictions.

With the Vice Chairman of the NDRC Hu Zucai, Commissioner Vestager spoke about current antitrust issues in the two jurisdictions, the NDRC's initiatives to prohibit the abuse of administrative monopoly and plans to introduce the prior review of government measures.

Commissioner Vestager also met with Xiao Yaqing, the newly appointed Chairman of SASAC, to discuss reform of state-owned enterprises in China also in the context of the guidelines published by the SASAC for the reform of state-owned enterprises in September 2015.

The meeting with DRC Chairman Li Wei provided an opportunity to review the challenges of China's reform, which the EU follows with great interest given its implications not only for China, but for the world economy and bilateral relations with the EU.

In her meetings, Commissioner Vestager underlined the EU's determination to act against trade distortions in steel and the urgency of finding effective solutions to address overcapacity. Given China's central role to play, Commissioner Vestager welcomed her counterparts' willingness to work together to resolve this serious issue.


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