Although the global economy is facing increasing uncertainties and sluggish growth due to the COVID-19 epidemic, economic and trade cooperation between China and Europe, which maintains strong momentum based on complementarity and mutual benefits, can act as a countervailing force and help stabilize the world.
Resilience and Vigor
Economic and trade cooperation between the European Union and China has proven to be surprisingly resilient and vigorous despite the negative consequences of the pandemic. China has thus overtaken the United States to become the European Union’s largest trading partner in 2021, with bilateral trade volume reaching record levels. Last year, the European Union also became China’s second largest trading partner, and in the first two months of 2022 it even surpassed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) , coming in first place.
The first direct China-Europe freight train from southwest China’s Guizhou Province to Moscow leaves Guiyang in November 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)
In 2021, bilateral trade between China and the European Union amounted to more than 800 billion dollars, a new all-time high, while bilateral investment exceeded 270 billion dollars. Bilateral trade has increased significantly in various sectors, such as aerospace, biology, photoelectricity, electronics and others. Likewise, the two sides have improved and expanded their communication channels, including the European Union-China High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) as well as regular consultations between local governments and businesses.
Jürgen Friedrich, chief executive officer (CEO) of Germany Trade & Invest, the country’s foreign trade and investment agency, said China has been Germany’s most important trading partner for six consecutive years and that the overall volume of two-way trade had reached a new high in 2021. China is one of the most important growth markets in the world and it is also an important partner for Germany in its efforts to meet global challenges, such as the pandemic and climate change.
Horst Löchel, a professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, for his part called trade between the European Union and China a win-win for both sides, saying he expected the growth trend continues.
More and more freight trains
In March 2021, a historic agreement between the European Union and China to protect more than 500 Chinese and European geographical indications (GIs) entered into force.
Among the first beneficiaries of the deal were wines produced on the Greek island of Samos. “China is an extremely important market or a potentially important market for Greek wines. I think that as wine becomes more and more popular in China, in just a few years, Greek wines will conquer the market there,” assured the first Greek Wine Master Konstantinos. Lazarakis.
The past year has also seen an increasing number of freight trains, also known as “steel camel caravans”, transporting goods between China and Europe. In 2021, the number of round-trip freight train journeys reached 15,000, carrying 1.46 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 22% and 19%, respectively, year-on-year. ‘other.
This rail link is also very popular with producers and importers in Spain. Gonzalo Jerez, director of Spanish logistics firm TransGlory, said it played a key role as a sustainable and reliable mode of logistics during the worst of the pandemic.
In Serbia, the Belgrade-Novi Sad (Beno) section of the China-built Hungary-Serbia Railway opened in March. The ceremony took place in Novi Sad in the presence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. This landmark railway project has often been described as a symbol of cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European region.
Shared strategic interests
China and Europe are major markets with shared strategic interests in promoting development through green and digital partnerships. Both parties are also in line with their ambitious commitments to green and digital transformation, lower carbon emissions and climate change mitigation.
One example is China’s Shanghai Electric Power Company, which is leveraging its expertise in wind, solar and hydrogen power on Malta’s island of Gozo, which it aims to turn into Malta’s first carbon-neutral island. ‘European Union. The company is also involved in other green energy projects in Malta and Montenegro.
According to Mr Löchel, it is vital for Europe and China to cooperate in the field of green energy. The European Union unveiled its European Green Deal in 2019 and the bloc aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Meanwhile, China has pledged to peak its carbon emissions before 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2060. This “cooperative model” in green energy is very important for the whole world, he stressed.
Meanwhile, China and Europe have also made continuous efforts to strengthen their partnership in digital trade and finance. Bilateral e-commerce cooperation is booming, and the parties are jointly developing cross-border e-commerce industrial parks. Several Chinese companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, are actively involved in the expansion of the European 5G network. Bank of China and China Construction Bank are also set to launch their digital currency electronic payment systems and fintech labs.
Löchel also noted that both Europe and China are committed to addressing security issues around digitalization and have developed regulations and policies to protect their consumers’ private data.