Clete Willems Quoted by CNBC on China’s Retaliatory Sanctions Against Europe

Akin Gump public law and policy partner Clete Willems has been quoted in the CNBC article “China made a ‘huge strategic blunder’ in retaliating against Europe, former U.S. negotiator says.” Willems, who worked in the Trump administration as a Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economics, shared his thoughts on China’s imposition of sanctions on 10 European Union politicians and four other entities in response to sanctions that the EU imposed for China’s detentions of members of an ethnic minority.

Willems noted that Beijing’s actions killed a major investment agreement between the European Union and China that would have given businesses on each side greater access to the other’s markets. That deal is now “off the table,” he said, with Beijing’s actions showing that “with China, it’s overreaching and overreacting and not addressing legitimate issues like forced labor.”

For Europe, which Willems said is “much more dependent on China as an export market,” than the United States, “the question is how tough will they really be.”

“I think we’ve seen some positive signals, but I think the amount of pressure that the allies are (putting) on China to get them to change their practices … We’ve still a long way to go,” said Willems. “And we need to see Europe continuing to be more muscular.”