Europe must redefine partners amid trade tensions

By Carlos Santana Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/24 21:13:39

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Time after time, countries, companies and people face challenges. There are many different approaches to each problem, and there's no precise formula for success. However, resilience to adversity determines who we are.

China has demonstrated its adaptability, and thus it has achieved goals that once seemed impossible. Many people say the world has changed, and indeed it has. Change is a constant part of life. The essence of the new order is the speed of change.

Regarding the new economy, two clear paths are shaping the evolution of the world's trade relationships. First, there's the approach to free trade of the Trump administration, where everything that we have long taken for granted can be replaced. Second, there's the role that China has gained in the international arena.

Despite not having a magic recipe for success, Beijing has been able to correct the "ship's course" to arrive at a safe port. The nation will hold an important event in November called the China International Import Exhibition (CIIE). The CIIE represents tremendous efforts by China as an economy, but more importantly as a society which represents 20 percent of the world's population, to move to an open economy. It is the ultimate proof of China's commitment to evolving with the world, not becoming isolated from it.

Faced with the US trade position on the one hand and China's support for free trade on the other, Europe needs to redefine its current partners, markets and goals. The Chinese government always has been inclined to promote social, cultural and trade exchanges with the EU. One proof of that is the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), which is an ambitious internationalization plan. The BRI focuses not only on China's immediate neighbors but also on Europe.

By embracing the BRI, many countries, institutions and companies are improving their trade and cultural relationships with China and each other. The initiative was born in China, but Beijing is not seeking its leadership. The BRI is not only a way out (that is, the globalization of China) but also a way in (in terms of exports of goods and services to the world's second-largest economy).

China has a clear idea: New bridges need to be built. New relationships need to be developed. Technology, jobs and businesses need to be created. New changes remain to be embraced.

Beijing has already made the necessary adjustments to the ship, which arrives in November in Shanghai in the form of the CIIE. At that event, many changes will be announced. Governments, institutions and companies from all over the world will witness it.

Not being there means declining to be part of a new world where there is wide agreement that trade and a lack of protectionism is the best way to interact on a global scale. Will the EU and its companies be on board? There is still time. 

The author is director of Mundiver Group and senior consultant for the Yiwu-Spain Foundation.


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