The General Administration of Customs of China shows that the country cut its purchase from Lithuania by approximately 77% in the first quarter of 2022. The European Union (EU) mapped out the next steps in its related World Trade Organization (WTO) lawsuit against China over its alleged import blocks on Lithuania.

Since allowing self-ruled Taiwan to create a diplomatic office under its own name last November, Lithuania’s trade with China has plummeted, exacerbating already strained EU-Beijing ties.

In December 2021, Lithuania’s exports to China suffered a nearly-total collapse, plunging more than 90% compared to the same month of 2020.

The customs administration’s data showed that China’s first-quarter imports from the small nation slumped 77% year on year. This figure implies that an unofficial embargo on goods from the Baltic island remains in force.

Lithuanian exporters found their country’s details were effectively erased from the Chinese customs portal.

However, in February, the Lithuanian state broadcaster (LRT) reported that Lithuanian exports grew significantly, unaffected by the COVID-19 epidemic, geopolitics, and especially the Chinese regime’s crackdowns. Lithuanian’s merchandise exports increased 20.5 percent year on year.

In January, the EU started an investigation and filed a lawsuit with the WTO against China, accusing it of economically coercing one of its smallest members.

In the following month, China prohibited Lithuanian meat, dairy, and alcohol goods, citing compliance issues and label manipulation as reasons.

EU sources said the union was dissatisfied with China’s response.

Miriam Garcia Ferrer, an EU trade spokeswoman, stated, “The EU can confirm that WTO dispute settlement consultations with China were held mid-March in which the EU asked a number of questions on the measures taken by China. We are still examining the details of the answers by China and will on that basis decide on the next steps.”

After the EU-China summit on April 1, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “China must stop its unjustified trade measures against Lithuania, which violate WTO rules and disrupt the EU’s Internal Market. Until it does, we will pursue our case in front of the WTO.”

Meanwhile, Beijing dismissed charges of economic coercion.

Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated, “The problem between China and Lithuania is a political one, not an economic one,” and has no place at the WTO.

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