AP

EU takes China to WTO over Lithuania trade dispute

Dec 6, 2022, 1:00 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 3:38 am

FILE - The closed Lithuanian Embassy is seen in Beijing, on Dec. 16, 2021. The European Union has a...

FILE - The closed Lithuanian Embassy is seen in Beijing, on Dec. 16, 2021. The European Union has announced that it has begun legal action at the World Trade Organization against China over what it says are import restrictions Beijing has imposed on Lithuania. The European Commission estimates that China has cut trade from Lithuania by 80% this year. It followed the Baltic state breaking with diplomatic custom in 2021 by letting the Taiwanese office in Vilnius bear the name Taiwan, instead of Chinese Taipei. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union announced Wednesday that it has begun legal action at the World Trade Organization against China over what it says are import restrictions Beijing has imposed on Lithuania.

The European Commission estimates that China cut trade from the EU member country by 80% this year after Lithuania broke with diplomatic custom in 2021 by allowing a Taiwanese office in Vilnius to bear the name Taiwan, instead of Chinese Taipei, which most other countries use to avoid offending Beijing.

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory with no right to diplomatic recognition, and Lithuania’s move infuriated Beijing, which withdrew its ambassador to Vilnius and expelled the Lithuanian ambassador to Beijing. The Baltic state has since closed its embassy in Beijing.

The commission, which handles trade on behalf of the EU’s 27 member countries, said it is taking WTO action because “China has applied discriminatory and coercive measures against exports from Lithuania and against exports of EU products containing Lithuanian content.”

China said it regrets the EU move, which also includes a second dispute about European companies’ rights over their high-tech patents.

“China has always managed foreign trade in a manner consistent with WTO rules, continued to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, and strived to create a favorable environment for innovation and business operations,” the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

The EU’s executive branch, however, said Chinese customs authorities have rejected a number of Lithuanian imports and had “suddenly formalized complete import bans on alcohol, beef, dairy, logs, and peat shipped from Lithuania.” It said Beijing has used food and animal health reasons for doing so.

Prior to this year, Lithuania exported around 200 million euros ($210 million) worth of produce to China annually.

The commission is particularly concerned about the impact on the entire European market because China’s measures might discourage companies from doing business with Lithuania to avoid having restrictions placed on their own products.

Dissatisfied with Beijing’s response to its questions, the commission has requested the establishment of a WTO panel to hear the dispute. It expects its request to be heard on Dec. 20 or in late January. It could take a year before any decision is handed down from the governing body for world trade.

Brussels also requested a second WTO panel over another dispute with China. It concerns the legality of Beijing restricting EU companies that hold high-tech patents from accessing European courts to protect and enforce their rights.

“The Chinese side regrets the European side’s decision,” the Ministry of Commerce said. “China will properly handle the relevant request raised by the EU in accordance with the WTO dispute settlement procedures, and resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tues...

Associated Press

Biden makes a case for his legacy — and for Harris to continue it — in his Oval Office address

Biden made a case for his legacy on Wednesday night when he delivered an Oval Office address about his decision to bow out of the race.

13 hours ago

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

10 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

10 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

10 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

10 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

11 days ago

EU takes China to WTO over Lithuania trade dispute