(Reuters) – The European Union may take the trade row between China and Lithuania to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it finds evidence that Beijing is violating international trade rules, the bloc’s executive Commission said on Friday.
China is pressuring German car parts giant Continental to stop using components made in Lithuania amid a dispute between Beijing and the Baltic state over the status of Taiwan, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting two people familiar with the matter.
The Chinese government, which views self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania last month after the opening of a representative office by Taiwan in Vilnius.
China’s foreign ministry denies that Beijing has pressured multinational companies not to use Lithuanian-produced parts though says its companies no longer trusted Lithuania.
The European Commission said it was gathering information to find out what is actually happening, and would then decide on any further actions.
“We’re exploring steps at the WTO and an official complaint to the WTO. Of course, many other steps are theoretically possible,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters in Brussels.
“In order to build a case in the WTO, we need to have enough evidence, so that’s actually what we do now,” another spokesperson said, adding the Commission was in touch with the authorities in Lithuania and other members states that could be facing similar problems.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Kate Abnett; editing by David Evans)