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China-EU cooperation propelled to new height

Zheng Jianghua
Updated: Jun 5,2017 7:33 AM     Xinhua

BRUSSELS — Within the context of growing global uncertainties, the just-concluded 19th China-EU summit yielded fruitful results, sending out a positive signal that China-EU relations remain stable and is steadily forging ahead.

According to the list of outcomes of the summit, which took place in Brussels on June 1-2, the two sides raised a series of new cooperation initiatives on strengthening China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit and all-win results.

It’s worth noting that the two sides at the summit discussed the EU’s fulfillment of its obligations under Article 15 of China’s WTO Accession Protocol and expanded common understanding on this issue.

China underscored that the EU should honor its Article 15 obligations and send a signal of respecting international rules to the international community and the market. The EU said it is in the process of amending the relevant legislation and commits to doing so in a non-discriminatory manner and in consistency with WTO rules, according to the full text of the list of outcomes.

Free trade requires both parties to honor the corresponding international rules, especially the WTO’s multilateral trading mechanism.

It’s regretful that the EU, an important rule-maker and champion of free trade, balks at living up to its obligations. It hasn’t abandoned application of the “surrogate country” approach in calculating Chinese export prices in anti-dumping investigations. Article 15 of the protocol obliges the EU to terminate application of the “surrogate country” approach as of Dec 11, 2016.

Premier Li Keqiang cautioned in a speech at the EU-China Business Summit on June 2 that if all WTO members chose to observe international rules in a selective way, this would trigger cycles of reactions and undercut the foundations of the multilateral order.

“No one will emerge as a winner eventually,” he stressed.

Trade and investment are the bedrocks of China-EU relations. The EU is China’s largest trading partner and China is the EU’s second largest. The average daily trade volume stands at more than $1.69 billion.

As of March 2017, China’s cumulative direct investment in the EU amounted to $73.3 billion, and the EU’s cumulative investment in China reached $114.6 billion.

Even with those seemingly striking figures, there is still considerable potentials that remain untapped, especially in investment.

Premier Li pointed out that the EU’s investment in China only accounts for 4 percent of the bloc’s total overseas investment, and China’s investment in the EU only takes up 2 percent of all foreign direct investment flowing to the EU. “This is not commensurate with the size of the two economies,” Premier Li said.

Taking stock of this, the two sides viewed the ongoing negotiations on an investment agreement as a top priority.

“The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to speeding up negotiations in a cooperative and pragmatic spirit with a view to reaching an ambitious and balanced outcome as early as possible, in order to establish and maintain a friendly, predictable, business-conducive policy environment for investors from both sides,” read the text of the list of outcomes.

In addition to backing trade liberalization and investment facilitation, China and the EU, as two major players in the international community, also have broad consensus on addressing global challenges.

Especially with regard to climate change, the two sides reaffirmed the importance of the issue and their commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement when US President Donald Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from it. They agreed to step up cooperation and promote the implementation of the accord.

Openness, pragmatic cooperation and mutual benefit have always been the mainstream of China-EU relations. Facing growing uncertainties around the globe, the summit sent a positive and clear signal that the two sides are determined to propel their cooperation to a new height.

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