The new agenda for EU-China economic cooperation


Together with the top EU leadership, I will be in China on 12 and 13 July to participatein 18th EU-China Summit. I was in Beijing at the end of April and in the pastthree weeks my fellow Commissioners in charge of transport, energy and climate change, and trade have all made high-level visits. The EU's new China strategy,released on 22nd June, will guide bilateral relations for the coming years.

Our economies aregoing through profound transformations. The EU is making a digital and innovation leap as it recovers from the financial crisis and China is transitioning into a fundamentally new economic model, with the formidable challenges. As Vice President in charge of the EU’s broad economic relationship with China, Ibelieve this will not only mean a new era for each of us, but a new era for the EU-China relationship itself, where we can contribute more than ever to eachother’s success and prosperity.

All this underlines the importance of the EU-China partnership. In the wake of thenew situation after the UK referendum, it also illustrates the importance ofthe EU's vast single market as a powerful engine of prosperity for EUcitizens—and for key partners like China. The EU is and remains the world's largest trader of goods and services.

Our relationship must build on our strong trade in goods, where we are top partners, to expand into two areas of vast untapped potential: services andinvestment. Also, as our cooperation increasingly involves high technology, itis essential that China's technological upgrading is based on openness to EU business. Huge mutual benefit lies ahead.

The success of this new era will depend very much on how we handle this complex transformation process together. The friction caused by vestiges of the old model, such as hugeindustrial overcapacity, including in steel, has to be managed well so that itdoes not have repercussions in the new era.

Inthe past two years, we have embarked on the first steps of a "newagenda" for this new era, with ongoing negotiations towards a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which should deliver wide market accessas well as state-of-the-art investor protection for both sides. We are exploring new areas of collaboration, such as China's participation to the European Investment Plan, or synergies between China's One Belt One Road and EU Flagship initiatives through our Connectivity Platform. Also part of this newagenda is the digital economy, innovation, and the environment. In all theseareas we need to ensure a level playing field. Reciprocity will be the watchword of this new era of our relations, as openness on one side breedsopenness on the other.

In this new era, the EU has embraced China's ever growing role in internationalgovernance—for example via participation of our Member States in the AIIB andChina's membership of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Wehave engaged constructively in China's G20 agenda which we expect will deliver ambitious outcomes in economy, finance and trade. We must build on these stepsto implement commitments taken at COP-21 in Paris, as well as inject new momentum in World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks. As a fundamental element ofour partnership, we look to China to exercise leadership and ambition to supporta rules-based, transparent and accountable system of global governance — as the EU has long championed as the essential backdrop to our bilateral relations inthis new era of EU-China cooperation.


The article written by European Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Mr Jyrki KATAINEN


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