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Business leaders strengthen ties, seek further cooperation

Fu Jing in Brussels
Updated: Jun 30,2015 9:40 AM     China Daily

Business leaders from China and the European Union expanded their business ties during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Europe and set the stage for additional investment and cooperation.

Digital China Holdings Chairman Guo Wei, for example, signed agreements with the company’s European partners on June 29 to deepen cooperation on smart urbanization.

“In the digital sector and smart city areas, China and the EU have a lot to share,” Guo said after the signing ceremony in Brussels.

Guo’s company will work with the University of Salford, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the European Union e-Forum, a nonprofit interested in public sector technology, to deepen research on making Chinese cities greener.

Stephen Phillips, chief executive of the China-Britain Business Council and chairman of the EU-China Business Association, moderated a session for business leaders. He said the business communities are ready for a comprehensive EU-China investment deal.

“The expectation from both sides is very high for a quick conclusion of the bilateral investment treaty between the European Union and China,” he told China Daily.

Policymakers are capable of crafting a high-quality deal quickly, he said, adding, “We can have them both at the same time.”

Chinese business leaders cited a disparity in China’s investment in Europe, given the country’s economic heft, and also efforts to close the gap.

“The total amount of domestic household savings in China has hit $21 trillion, but Chinese investment accounts for less than 1 percent of the total foreign direct investment in Europe,” said Wu Xiaohui, chairman of Anbang Insurance.

Anbang is representative of Chinese companies that have implemented a rapid “going out” strategy through a series of merger and acquisition deals in Europe, and the company is keen on bringing more business peers to each other’s markets.

“In terms of both the market and future economic development, there is huge potential,” Wu said, citing the Chinese market’s rapid development and Europe’s advanced industrial technologies and brands.

Wu said the integration of European and Chinese businesses will trigger further deals.

Deep cooperation in traditional sectors such as infrastructure, energy and manufacturing as well as new areas like high tech and green energies will enable Europe and China to integrate in a broader and stronger way, Wu said.

“We are at a very good stage for development,” Wu said. “In the context of getting involved in Jean-Claude Juncker’s investment plan and the conclusion of our bilateral investment agreement, we can go together on the basis of our strategic partnership. “Wu was referring to the European Fund for Strategic Investment, also known as the Juncker plan.

Hu Haidong, general manager of Broad Europe, said there is no doubt the cooperation between China and the EU has been strengthened.

“Previously, China is the one that received European investment, but now China has become one of the most important FDI (foreign direct investment) partners for the EU. The bilateral cooperation enjoys a bright future,” Hu said.