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China-EU trade, investment growing rapidly

Updated: Jan 18, 2022 By ZHU WENQIAN China Daily Print
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An employee transfers packages at a stocking facility of Cainiao, a logistics arm under Alibaba, in Guadalajara, Spain, in November. [Photo by Meng Dingbo/China Daily]

The scale of bilateral trade and investment between China and the European Union has grown rapidly despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU should continue to stand firm on trade liberalization and multilateralism, thus boosting the confidence of foreign enterprises to continue to invest in the bloc, experts said on Monday.

Although the global economy is seeing a slow recovery due to the pandemic headwinds, China-EU business ties have been more enhanced than before. China has become the largest trade partner of the EU, and the EU the second-largest for China.

From last January to September, China's direct investment in the EU reached $4.99 billion, growing 54 percent year-on-year, said the Ministry of Commerce.

"China has always supported the process of European integration. Still, last year, the trade protectionism in the EU became a more prominent problem, and the business environment there stepped back, which may harm Chinese enterprises doing business in the EU," said Zhao Ping, vice-dean of the Academy of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. The CCPIT is China's foreign trade and investment promotion agency.

She made the remarks while the CCPIT released a report in Beijing regarding EU's business environment in 2021 and 2022. The CCPIT surveyed some 300 companies that have operations in the EU.

"Since last year, the EU has raised the market access thresholds of foreign companies, and nearly 60 percent of surveyed companies said the foreign investment screening process has brought a certain negative impact on their investments and operations in the EU," Zhao said.

Meanwhile, the EU has treated domestic and foreign enterprises differently in the name of pandemic control measures, and Chinese enterprises are facing increasing discrimination at the law enforcement level in the EU, the report said.

The surveyed enterprises regarded Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain as five EU countries with the best business environments, while the lowest assessment belongs to Lithuania's business environment.

Zhao added China-EU economic and trade cooperation has a broad and solid foundation. The two sides have further cooperation potential in the fields including green economy, digital economy and China-Europe Railway Express.

Lu Ming, vice-dean of CCPIT Academy, said the EU should insist on opening-up, further relax restrictions on foreign capital entering the EU, ensure fair participation of Chinese enterprises' public procurement in the bloc, and help strengthen the confidence of Chinese and global businesses to invest in EU markets.

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