China, EU Agree to Steel Working Group

China, EU Agree to Steel Working Group

BEIJING (AP) -- EU leaders said Wednesday that they have agreed with China to form a working group to discuss Beijing's overproduction of steel, an issue they say is linked to whether they will grant market economy status to China.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day summit in Beijing that "there is a clear link between steel overcapacity in China and the market economy status for China."

The status would mean that the EU treats China's economy as one controlled by the market, not the state, and would open the doors to more Chinese imports.

European steelmakers accuse China of dumping steel on the world market and have warned the 28-nation EU, China's largest trading partner, not to open further to Beijing, saying this would cost tens of thousands of jobs.

Juncker said that he had agreed with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to establish "a kind of steel platform between China and the European Union to keep alive the debates and the discussions we have related to the steel overproduction."

Earlier Wednesday, during a speech at a business meeting, Juncker pushed for Beijing to make good on its pledges to reform state-owned enterprises and to allow European companies more access to the Chinese market, saying progress was "too slow."

Chinese officials have previously tried to reassure foreign companies they are welcome in its economy.