European Union-China Trade Relations

Trade, Law and Development, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 224-251, 2010

30 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2011 Last revised: 24 Mar 2011

See all articles by Rafael Leal-Arcas

Rafael Leal-Arcas

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: December 27, 2010


This article analyzes European Union-China trade relations in the context of the current negotiations for a new comprehensive framework agreement between the European Union (EU) and the People’s Republic of China. China is a strong economic power with increasingly sophisticated production in its coastal regions and is attempting to establish itself as a gravity center by concluding many bilateral free-trade agreements in the region. Although China has a strong hold in the Far East, there may be specific policy areas in which China’s influence ends up being global. The article explains the steps taken for negotiating a new comprehensive framework agreement between China and the European Union, examines trade relations between the two entities as well as the bilateral trade relations from a Chinese perspective. It also seeks to analyze the various ways to improve the currently difficult EU-China trade relations. The article concludes that dealing with China was one of the main arguments in favor of ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon because it provides for a permanent president of the European Council and a single foreign affairs post for the entire EU, which facilitates the EU’s coherence in its external affairs. Moreover, the article concludes that the European Commission should negotiate the prospective Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and China more constructively, without patronizing China, and instead accept it as an equal player in the current multipolar framework of global economic governance.

Keywords: China, Comprehensive Framework Agreement, EU, Bilateral Free-Trade Agreements, Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, EU-China Trade Partnership

JEL Classification: F01, F02, F15, F14, F13, K33, N15, O53

Suggested Citation

Leal-Arcas, Rafael, European Union-China Trade Relations (December 27, 2010). Trade, Law and Development, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 224-251, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Rafael Leal-Arcas (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Holborn, London WC2A 3JB
United Kingdom


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