Exclusive: Chinese Premier's EU visit to facilitate bilateral trade, investment relations among businesses: chamber
Published: Jun 19, 2023 11:00 PM
China-EU Photo: VCG

China-EU Photo: VCG

Chinese business communities in the EU have high expectations for the official visit of Chinese Premier Li Qiang to Germany and France from Sunday to Friday, saying the visit comes at a crucial time amid the need for stronger trade relations between China and the two major European countries amid geopolitical conflicts and supply chain bottlenecks.

The premier's visit is warmly welcomed by the Chinese business community. The decision to prioritize Germany and France as his first official overseas destinations since assuming office in March underscores the economic and trade significance of Europe to China, the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU (CCCEU) told the Global Times in an exclusive written interview on Monday.

"We firmly believe that Premier Li's visits will further strengthen the mutually beneficial economic relationship that China and Europe have cultivated," the CCCEU said.

In 2022, trade between China and the EU reached 856.3 billion euros ($935.23 billion), up about 23 percent year-on-year, data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, showed.

In 2022, China was the largest partner for the EU in terms of imports of goods, taking 20.8 percent of the total, and the third-largest partner for EU exports of goods, at 9 percent, according to statistics from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU.

Moreover, the trade structure has become more optimized, with significant growth observed in sectors such as lithium batteries, new-energy vehicles, photovoltaic components and other green products, according to the CCCEU.

"Given the considerable roles played by China and the EU as major global trade players, it is crucial for both sides to coordinate and strengthen their trade relations to foster global prosperity, especially in the face of geopolitical conflicts and supply chain bottlenecks that continue to impact global growth prospects," said CCCEU.

The chamber hopes that Li's visit will facilitate bilateral investment, a major area in China-EU economic ties.

In 2022, EU investment in China surged by 70 percent year-on-year to $12.1 billion, while China's investment in the EU increased by 21 percent to $11.1 billion, data provided by the CCCEU showed.

As the top two economic powerhouses in the EU's 27-member bloc, Germany and France hold great significance in the EU's single market and are key players in intra-EU trade and investment. Both countries also serve as major destinations for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly in sectors such as manufacturing, automobiles and components, and the solar and renewable industries, said the CCCEU.

Li's trip is also expected to benefit the development of Chinese companies in the EU and help improve the EU's business environment, the Chinese chamber said.

Since 2019, the EU has developed unilateral trade policies, including the 5G Toolbox, the FDI Screening Regulation, the Foreign Subsidies Regulation, and Net-Zero Industry Act, with non-EU countries including China being the major targets.

"Chinese companies in the EU hope that Premier Li's visits will facilitate dialogue, help cut the red tape, and reduce the non-market restrictions in the EU markets," the CCCEU said.

During a regular press conference on Thursday regarding Li's visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that in a world facing more turbulence, sluggish economic recovery and more global challenges, China hopes to deepen and expand its relations with Germany and together send a positive message of enhancing dialogue and cooperation, pursuing mutual benefit, jointly responding to challenges and contributing to world economic prosperity, peace and stability.

China also looks forward to working with all sides, including France, to make a positive contribution to more equitable and sustainable global development, Wang said.