EU and China should deepen industrial cooperation

By Elzbieta Bienkowska Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/16 19:53:40

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT


The EU and China are key partners in many ways. Together they make up 10 percent of the world's land area, 25 percent of the global population and one-third of global GDP. Together, we not only greatly influence the global economy, but also the lives of the people. Our economies are interdependent. The EU is China's largest trading partner and China is the EU's second-largest after the US. But our partnership has the potential to develop even further.

For instance, the EU is exporting to China only half the share of services that it is exporting to other economies. EU investment in China is declining: In 2017 it came to around 8 billion euros ($9 billion). This compares to China's investment of over 30 billion euros in Europe last year. Europe wants to do more and to invest more in China on the basis of a level playing field and agreed rules. Our ongoing EU-China negotiations on mutual investment are a great means to ensure this.

I am glad that the EU-China Tourism Year gave a special push to this important service sector, encouraging travel to each other's regions and discovering their respective cultures and traditions.  More broadly, the 2018 EU-China Summit agreed to further develop the strategic partnership.

China, considering the size of its market, obviously presents a great business opportunity for European companies. China is growing at a steady pace of around 6.5 percent a year. Additionally, China is already becoming a frontrunner in using artificial intelligence. I am looking forward to meeting with some of China's leading companies in this field and learning about their success.

As we focus on the future of industry, we are betting on innovation and making efforts to integrate digitalisation in industrial production, while also increasing our industry's environmental performance. European industry is strong and has retained a leading position in global markets. But to enable innovation and global research, a conducive regulatory environment is becoming ever more important. For instance, open public procurement procedures as well as open standard-setting processes that allow participation by foreign companies can ensure that markets play their role in promoting the most efficient solutions. 

There are many opportunities to cooperate and we are already making it happen. For instance, I am attending the 13th EU-China Business and Technology Fair in Chengdu. During the previous fairs, over 3,000 European companies or research institutions have attended, with over 24,000 matchmaking meetings organised by the Enterprise Europe Network.

In order to fully tap into the potential of cooperation, fostering an environment in which our innovative businesses can flourish should be a shared priority for China and the EU. Before the summer, the EU Chamber of Commerce in China published a detailed study with many examples of how China could do more to create meaningful opportunities for business. The EU-China Summit noted China's commitments to improving market access and the investment environment. Acting on these commitments will reassure both European and Chinese businesses. I hope we can further work on our regulatory convergence, particularly in emerging industries, in order to develop our trade and growth. This is especially true for all those areas that will be important for high-quality growth, the environment, health products and services.

During my visit, I will be keen to explore where our industrial policy cooperation can contribute to our shared endeavours. The EU and China know that we can do so much more together, and we stand ready to play our part.

The author is the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

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