Boosting China’s imports from European countries key to emerging logistics network

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/23 22:48:41

With improving connectivity between China and Europe under the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, tapping the full potential of European exports to China will be crucial for the new logistics network to play its role.

On Monday, China's Cosco Shipping Ports signed a concession agreement with the Port Authority of Zeebrugge to take over the entire operations of the container terminal of the Belgian port. Its parent company, China COSCO Shipping Corp, also owns a majority stake in Greece's largest such facility, Piraeus Port. Moreover, the China-Europe express freight train service has recorded substantial progress, with its network expanding to 36 European cities, according to a Xinhua News Agency report on Monday.

While such developments may signal that the emerging logistics network between China and Europe is gradually taking shape, whether it can really play its role of supporting the B&R initiative will largely depend on the development of Sino-European trade, particularly Europe's exports to China.

China is the EU's second-biggest trading partner and the EU is China's biggest trading partner, but the EU's trade deficit with China still indicates that there may be great potential in boosting China's imports of EU products, which will be crucial to promoting comprehensive bilateral cooperation.

With China's massive consumer market, resolving a few bottlenecks can unlock the potential for larger European exports to China. But that process requires efforts from both sides.

For instance, negotiations could be carried out over cutting tariffs for certain consumer goods. Also, a coordinating body could be established to reduce non-tariff barriers, including requirements for complicated procedures or certification.

As for concerns by many European high-technology companies over their intellectual property rights (IPR), China must improve the protection of IPR, with much work also needed to be done to dispel such concerns.

Moreover, China has established several free trade zones in years, with an aim to further open up its economy to the world.

While these zones have indeed helped the country's exports, it is time to study how they can be used to increase imports and foreign investment.

French President Emmanuel Macron made his first state visit to China in early January. At the end of this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May will pay a visit. Both visits put a high priority on economic and trade cooperation. It is hoped that Sino-European trade can expand to make the most use of the emerging logistics network.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: EYE ON ECONOMY,CHINA-EUROPE

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