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Spain PM urges Asia to open market to Western companies

By:
Reuters
Updated: Mar 30, 2023, 08:46 GMT+00:00

BOAO, China (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Thursday urged Asian countries to reciprocate and open their markets to Western companies.

Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023, in Boao

BOAO, China (Reuters) – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Thursday urged Asian countries to reciprocate and open their markets to Western companies.

For bilateral trade to flourish, a regulatory framework allowing domestic and foreign companies to compete on an equal footing needs to be established, Sanchez said in a speech at an economic forum in China.

“This means levelling the playing field and ensuring full reciprocity between partners,” he said. “It means opening up the East so the West doesn’t have to close in on itself.”

Relations between Europe and China do not need to be confrontational and resorting to protectionism would represent “a return to the past,” he added.

EU leaders have been discussing lifting restrictions on state aid in green tech to counter competition from the United States and China.

The European Commission has proposed loosening rules on state aid for investments in renewable energy, decarbonising industry, hydrogen or zero-emission vehicles, partly in response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Europe also wants its companies to gain ground in sectors such as solar panels, wind turbine blades and vehicle batteries, which are dominated by China manufacturers with well over 50% of the market.

European markets such as Spain are wide open for Chinese companies and it therefore expects China to reciprocate, Sanchez said. Collaboration can be mutually beneficial, Sanchez said, citing cooperation between Chinese and Spanish engineering and energy companies in Latin America as an example.

(Reporting by Joe Cash and Shuyan Wang; Writing by Ryan Woo and Inti Landauro; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Angus MacSwan)

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