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Brussels, 6 May 2009

Background: 2nd EU-China High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED)

On the 7th and 8th of May, the European Commission and the Chinese government will hold the second round of high-level economic and trade talks in Brussels. EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan will chair the second meeting of the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED). A further eight EU Commissioners and five Director Generals and a total of 12 Chinese ministers or vice-ministers are set to participate.

List of participants:

European Commission

  • Catherine Ashton (Chair), EU Commissioner for Trade
  • Günter Verheugen, Vice President, EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry
  • Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media
  • Stavros Dimas, EU Commissioner for Environment
  • László Kovács, EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs
  • Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for Competition
  • Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Charlie McCreevy, EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
  • Meglena Kuneva, EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection
  • David O'Sullivan, Director General for Trade
  • Heinz Zourek, Director General for Enterprise and Industry
  • Matthias Ruete, Director General for Transport and Energy
  • Robert Verrue, Director General for Taxation and Customs Union
  • Nicolaus van der Pas, Director General for Employment and Social Affairs
  • Aguiar Machado, Deputy Director General for Trade
  • Anneli Pauli, Deputy Director General for Science and Research


  • Wang Qishan (Chair), Vice Premier
  • Chen Denming, Minister of Commerce
  • Xie Xuren, Minister of Finance
  • Sheng Guangzu, Minister of General Administration of Customs
  • Bi Jinquan, Deputy Secretary General of the State Council
  • Song Tao, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Zhang Xiaoqiang, Vice Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC)
  • Zhang Laiwu, Vice Minister for Science and Technology
  • Miao Wei, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology
  • Qiu Baoxing, Vice Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development
  • Weng Mengyong, Vice Minister of Transport
  • Gao Hucheng, Vice Minister of Commerce
  • Wei Chuanzhong, Vice Minister of General Administration of Quality Supervision, inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)

Background: The High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED)

The High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) is a Chinese initiative, and was agreed on at the November 2007 Summit by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in order to address the imbalance in trade flows and opportunities between the EU and China. The broad remit of the HED is to examine the global trading system; strategic bilateral trade-related issues; investment; innovation, technology and IPR; and EU-China economic cooperation. The annual high level dialogue is to function as a complement and reinforcement to established ministerial EU-China dialogues.

The broad remit of the HED is to examine the following issues:

1. The multilateral global trading system

In particular, the HED will focus on the role of EU-China economic and trade relations in the wider framework of the global trading system.

2. Strategic bilateral trade and trade-related issues

The HED will look at market access and ways to address technical and regulatory barriers to trade. The HED will also provide for a review of China's progress on achieving Market Economy Status.

3. Investment issues

The focus will be on an open investment environment and investment conditions in the respective markets in order to enable greater investment flows in both directions.

4. Innovation, including IPR, and technology

The effective protection of Intellectual Property Rights is key for both the EU and China and necessary in China's efforts to transform its economy. China has made efforts to set up the right legal framework for this - the HED will focus on ways to improve effective enforcement of this framework.

5. EU-China economic cooperation

This will include close coordination on energy, sustainable development, including environmental and social pillars and regulatory and sectoral policy issues, transportation, and cross cutting issues such as better regulation.

EU-China Trade in facts and figures

China is now the second biggest national exporter in the global economy after Germany and ahead of the US. China now accounts for about 9% of world trade in goods. China is Europe's fastest growing export market. Europe exported EUR 78,4 billion worth of goods to China in 2008, a growth of 9% in 2008 compared to 2007. Exports from the EU to China have grown by approximately 65% between 2004 and 2008.

EU exports to China grew by close to 13 % per year in the last four years. However, although a large consumer market is developing in China, the EU still exports more to the 7.5 million people who live in Switzerland than the 1.3 billion people who live in China. Barriers to trade in China are estimated to cost EU businesses €21 billion in lost trade opportunities every year. That is the equivalent of the total imports of New Zealand, or the total GDP of Bulgaria. It is one-fourth of current EU exports to China.

Europe runs a surplus on trade in services with China - €3,9 billion in 2007 (up from 1,4 billion in 2006). This is about 40 times smaller than its trade deficit for goods.

Europe's imports from China have grown by around 18% per year for the last four years, although this growth rate declined in 2008. In 2008, the EU imported €248 billion worth of goods from China. China is Europe's biggest source of manufactured imports. Two decades ago China and Europe traded almost nothing.

Intellectual property rights protection remains a major problem for European businesses in China. Seven in ten European businesses operating in China say that they have been the victim of IPR violations. In 2007, European manufacturers estimated that IPR theft cost them 20% of their potential revenues in China.

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