China replaces US to become largest trade partner of EU

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/4 17:44:47

Aerial photo taken on Sept. 6, 2019 shows a cargo ship of COSCO SHIPPING Lines transporting Italian products for the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) to Shanghai berths at the Port of Piraeus, Greece. (Photo by Lefteris Partsalis/Xinhua)

China replaces the US to become the largest trade partner of the EU in the third quarter of this year, reflecting the resilience and potential of China-EU economic and trade relationship, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing on Friday.

China edged past the US in the third quarter to become the EU's largest trade partner, latest Eurostat data showed. During the first nine months, trade volume between China and the EU totaled 425.5 billion euros ($517.3 billion), whereas trade between the US and the EU stood at 412.5 billion euros, according to the statistics bureau.

"This is good news for both China and the EU - important trade partners for each other," Hua said, noting that the two economies are of strong complementarities, with wide cooperation and great potential.

With the EU being China's top trade partner for years, China becoming the largest trade partner for the EU fully reflects the resilience and potential of the China-EU economic and trade relation, Hua said.

As the two are accelerating talks on China-EU bilateral investment treaty agreement, we hope the two sides can meet each other halfway in a bid to reach an agreement by the end of 2020, and promote China-EU economic and trade cooperation to a new level, Hua said.

However, there are some noises in China-EU cooperation as US President-elect Joe Biden enters the White House, with the latest example being the EU has proposed a tech alliance with the incoming Biden administration in a bid to squeeze China out of the global technology trade.

"Although the EU shows fresh goodwill to the US ostensibly and politically, the bloc - to which its own interests come first - can't afford to weaken cooperation with China in the foreseeable future out of economic benefits," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.

Meanwhile, it isn't the EU's will to seek closer ties with the US even if they always stand on the same front on issues like human rights, and the fact that Biden has offered the prospect of restoring a more traditional trans-Atlantic relationship, Cui said.

"The EU has relatively higher expectations from the US," he said, noting that cooperating with China creates materialistic benefits for the bloc.

China and the EU are on track to reach a comprehensive bilateral investment treaty (BIT) by the end of 2020, as the two sides are making constant positive progress and accelerating their negotiations.

"I'm confident about the BIT talks," Cui said, noting that "even if the EU may leverage its side with the US to demand more favors in the BIT talks, it has to be based on reality or its existing economic interests can't be guaranteed."

Posted in: ECONOMY

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