04/05/2024, 13.50
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Yellen and the problem of trade between Beijing, Europe and Washington

by John Ai

The US Treasury Secretary in China for the second visit in a few months: the issue of Chinese 'overproduction' in the field of renewable energy on the table. The People's Republic is counting on exports of solar panels, electric vehicles and lithium batteries to tackle its economic crisis and fears the imposition of duties.  

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrived today in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou after the leaders of the two powers, Biden and Xi, had a telephone exchange of ideas at the beginning of the week. During the five-day visit, Yellen will address trade issues in a series of meetings, particularly the topic of Chinese "overproduction."

Trade is an important aspect of bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington. Trade disputes between China and the Western world are intensifying as Chinese exports in three new technology sectors - electric vehicles, photovoltaic modules and lithium batteries - have surged in recent years.

Yellen accused China of offering massive subsidies to companies that dominate industries and warned that the United States may not rule out imposing tariffs on Chinese products to protect American industries.

Europe is also concerned about the influx of cheap Chinese products onto the market. The European Commission has announced an investigation into Chinese solar panels for subsidies that would have "distorting" effects on the market.

Yellen will have two days of talks with Chinese Vice Prime Minister He Lifeng, in charge of Economy and Finance. She will then travel to Beijing to meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang, Finance Minister Lan Fo'an and central bank chief Pan Gongsheng.

China appears to welcome the visit by Yellen, who is an economist opposed to the imposition of additional tariffs. The official Chinese newspaper China Daily believes that the Treasury secretary is an ideal "mediator" due to her pragmatic and positive position.

This is also her second visit to China in the space of nine months; However, analysts believe that it is not easy for both sides to reach a consensus on trade issues.

Currently, 97% of solar panels in the European Union are imported. The collapse in the price of photovoltaic modules has accentuated the dependence on Chinese products: European producers are finding themselves in difficulty due to excess supply.

China's capacity to produce solar panels far exceeded global demand in 2023. As the European Union plans to increase the share of renewable energy to 42.5% by 2030, electric vehicles, photovoltaic modules and Lithium batteries play an important role in Brussels' sustainable development strategy.

China expects exports to boost its flagging economy. Last year, China's trade surplus increased significantly, and products such as electric vehicles, photovoltaic modules and lithium batteries made key contributions.

The export of these products increased by nearly 30 percent, Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang said. China has already become a superpower in the most complex and highest value-added technological sectors.

The Treasury secretary's trip comes just hours after a phone call between Biden and Xi, which covered a wide range of topics from Taiwan to artificial intelligence and security. The future ownership of TikTok is also at the center of tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The United States fears that this social network compromises its national security by collecting massive information on US citizens and its algorithm can be used to manipulate public opinion and spread disinformation. The Biden administration is trying to transfer ownership of this Chinese company to US entrepreneurs.

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