Brussels, July 14): The European Union's top officials will meet the leaders of China and Japan next week to boost ties in the face of fears that US President Donald Trump will spark an all-out global trade war.
The trip by EU Council President Donald Tusk and Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker includes the signing of a free trade deal with Japan, which was moved from Brussels last week because Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was dealing with deadly floods at home.
Their Asian tour comes as the EU — which, with 28 countries and 500 million people is the world's biggest single market — tries to forge alliances in the face of the protectionism of Trump's “America First” administration.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the “landmark” Japan deal was “the biggest ever negotiated by the European Union”.
“This agreement will create an open trade zone covering nearly a third of the world's GDP,” Schinas added.
In China on Monday, the two leaders will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to discuss their shared tensions with Washington, having both recently announced new tariffs on US goods in retaliation for measures imposed by Trump.
They are expected to reaffirm their support for the rules-based international order, including the World Trade Organization, which faces unprecedented criticism from Trump's administration.
The leaders will also discuss climate change — another area on which the EU is in disagreement with Trump after he pulled out of the Paris climate deal — and nuclear issues in North Korea and Iran, Schinas said.