EU launches probe into Chinese medical device procurement

By:
on Apr 24, 2024
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  • The EU journal outlined several ways this might be occurring, including a nationalistic "Buy China" policy.
  • This investigation is part of a broader series of EU actions examining Chinese policies on various fronts.
  • The EU's approach is increasingly focused on reducing dependency on Chinese technology.

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The European Union has started an investigation into the procurement practices for medical devices in China, according to announcements in the EU’s official journal on Wednesday, April 24. This inquiry could heighten existing tensions between the EU and Beijing.

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Concerns over “Buy China” policy

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The investigation centers on concerns that China is preferentially supporting local manufacturers over foreign competitors.

The EU journal outlined several ways this might be occurring, including a nationalistic “Buy China” policy.

The EU suspects that China may be imposing import restrictions and conditions leading to abnormally low bids that are unsustainable for profit-oriented businesses.

Impact on European operators

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The probe highlights issues with practices that systematically disadvantage European economic operators by favoring domestic products over imported goods.

This first-time use of the EU’s International Procurement Instrument aims to ensure reciprocity in public procurement markets globally.

Potential consequences for Chinese firms

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Should the investigation conclude that unfair practices are occurring, the EU could restrict Chinese companies’ access to the public procurement market within the 27-member bloc.

The process is set to be completed within nine months, with a possible five-month extension if needed by the European Commission.

Beijing’s invitation to respond

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Beijing has been invited to present its perspective and provide relevant information concerning the allegations.

There is also an opportunity for China to enter into consultations with the Commission to address and possibly rectify the reported issues.

Broader context of EU-China relations

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This investigation is part of a broader series of EU actions examining Chinese policies on various fronts, from green technology to forced labor. Recent probes have included inquiries into Chinese subsidies for wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and trains.

The EU’s approach is increasingly focused on reducing dependency on Chinese technology, a shift accelerated by the geopolitical shifts following Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

This ongoing tension is further underscored by recent legislative moves in the EU, such as the European Parliament’s approval of a ban on products made using forced labor, which is expected to impact Chinese goods significantly.

Additional political intrigue

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This new investigation also follows closely after German authorities detained an aide to an EU parliament member on charges of spying for China, adding another layer of complexity to the EU-China relationship during this period of heightened scrutiny and evolving diplomatic engagements.

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