Trade Promotion

China-EU economic and trade cooperation shows vitality and resilience

2021-8-27 15:18:42

China's exports to the EU increased by 23.4% year-on-year in the first seven months of 2021. The China-Europe freight-train service has recorded more than 1,300 trips per month for three months. Two-way investment between China and EU is gaining great momentum. China-EU economic and trade cooperation has shown extraordinary vitality and strong resilience since this year. Experts said in our interview that further China-EU economic and trade cooperation will enhance the confidence of the international community in economic globalization and trade liberalization, accelerate the recovery of the world economy and make important contributions to global economic development.

China-EU trade bucks the global recession

CR express provides boost

Trade between China and the EU has been increasing. In 2020, the commodity trade between the 27 members of the EU and China increased despite the Covid-19 pandemic, making China the largest trading partner for the first time. The import-export volume between China and the EU reached RMB 2.96 trillion yuan in the first seven months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 23.4%. China has thus maintained its position as the EU's largest trading partner.

In an interview with China Trade News, Chen Chao, assistant research fellow of International Cooperation Center of National Development and Reform Commission, said that the steady growth of China-EU trade can be attributed to the sound foundation of mutual agreement and mutual complementarity, as well as the efforts of both sides to enhance dialogue and exchanges and strengthen cooperation, and eventually achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.

Mathias Schulz, Head of Market Development Asia of Port of Hamburg, said, “The value of CR express was further highlighted during the Covid-19 outbreak. The sharply increased China-Europe trains has played a key role in ensuring the transportation of goods such as prevention and control supplies, becoming another safe and efficient transportation mode between Europe and China.” Data show that 1,352 CR express trains were put into operation in July, transporting 131,000 TEU, up by 8% and 15% year on year, respectively. Since May 2020, more than 1,000 trains have been dispatched each month for 15 consecutive months, and more than 1,300 trains for 3 consecutive months since May this year.

Chen Chao believes that the railway trade between China and Europe has maintained rapid growth since the start of the China-Europe train service, even when other transportations have stagnated. Geographically speaking, the range of transportation has expanded to 23 countries in Europe. The trains have also generated a spillover effect, and, along with the combined strengths of inland ports, comprehensive bonded zones and transport corridors, facilitating the internal circulation from China's South-East coastal areas to western regions. In this sense, CR express does not only play the role of transportation and trade channels, but also serves as a buttress for the gathering of platforms, industries, cities and opening-up, which is a new international, comprehensive and multidimensional supply chain model.

Active two-way investment between China and Europe

Joint efforts to strengthen green economy

China and the EU have signed Agreement on Civil Aviation Safety and Landmark Geographical Indications Agreement in recent years, completed negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement, and forged China-EU green and digital partnerships. Two-way investment has become an important link in China-EU economic and trade relations.

Chen Chao told that, during the pandemic, China and the EU are deeply bonded in terms of two-way investment and trade and the demand for cooperation is expected to rise and the investment is promising. According to the Business Confidence Survey of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, 59% of the companies surveyed said that they are considering expanding their business in China; 68% are optimistic about the business of their own industry. China brought the virus under control at a pace faster than any other regions in the world, and the economic development accelerated again last year, from which the companies surveyed could benefit.

BASF, a German chemical giant who has been deeply involved in the Chinese market for many years, earned 19.75 billion euros worldwide in the Q2 of this year, a year-on-year increase of 56%. Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF, said that BASF has achieved double-digit growth in the past five quarters in Greater China. Jaguar Land Rover, a British car manufacturer, has also made great achievements in the Chinese market by selling 55,000 vehicles in China in the first half of the year, a year-on-year growth of 52%. As of June, its sales have increased year-on-year for the 10th consecutive month. Pan Qing, president and CEO of Jaguar Land Rove China, said that the sustained growth in the first half of this year further proved that the Chinese market is irreplaceable.

With the development of The Belt and Road Initiative, western China has become a new market favored by many European enterprises in recent years. Gao Rulin, general manager of Decathlon (Chongqing), a comprehensive sporting goods retailer from France, is very satisfied with the company's development in Chongqing in the past six years and has full confidence for the future. He said, the company has invested in shopping malls in six areas of Chongqing,  and will introduce the world's first RFID real-time inventory management robots for all categories of products here, and make greater investment in innovation in smart retail.

Chinese enterprises have also accelerated their pace of investment in Europe, and now are involved in many fields such as infrastructure, transportation and energy there. Shanghai Electric Power (Malta) Holding Co., Ltd. has been committed to promoting green and low-carbon energy cooperation between China and Europe, investing in the construction of Delimara Phase III power station in Malta, completing the oil-to-gas project, and jointly investing in Mozura Wind Park in Montenegro with the Maltese government. Sheng Baojie, executive director of the company, said that they will also invest in new energy projects in Malta to help the country achieve the goal of carbon neutrality in 2050 set by the EU.

In this regard, Chen Chao said that, on the one hand, the development capacity and potential of China's super-large market and population show strong appeal to European enterprises. Taking China's further opening up as an opportunity, the 21 Pilot Free Trade Zones have gathered about one-sixth of China's foreign investment in actual use and newly established foreign-funded enterprises with less than 4/1000 of the country's land. They will become new platforms for Chinese and European enterprises to strengthen investment cooperation in the future. On the other hand, the European economy is rebounding at a faster rate than expected. The European Commission predicts that the GDP of the EU and the Eurozone is projected to increase by 4.8% this year, and the real GDP of the Eurozone is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the Q4 of 2021. The EU consumer price index rose by 2.3% year-on-year in May 2021, expanding for the sixth consecutive month. Moreover, the EU has strong advantages in technology and management experience in fields such as medical care, old-age care and green economy.

“The year 2021 marks the beginning of China's 14th Five-Year Plan, and the Next Generation EU will also be launched this year. China and the EU have great prospects for cooperation in the fields of energy, manufacturing, finance and digital in the future.” Chen Chao said that especially in green economy, the European Union proposed to cut 296 million tons of CO2 emissions every year by 2050, accounting for about half of its total emission reduction. Green development is an important part of China's new development concepts, and China has set the “3060 Target” accordingly. China and the EU will work together to build a green partnership and make the green economy bigger and stronger, which will inject further impetus to the economic recovery and green sustainable development of the world.

(Source: CCPIT/

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