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Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
Karel De Gucht
European Commissioner for Trade
Statements following the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED)
Fourth EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED)/ Brussels
24 October 2013
Statement by Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro:
Good evening. We have just had a very productive exchange of views with Vice-Premier Ma Kai and several Ministers on a wide range of economic and trade related issues. This has been done in the context of the Fourth High-Level Economic Dialogue between the European Union and China. The EU and China together represent around a third of global GDP. That means that our bilateral relations, as well as the impact we have on global economic relations, carry a lot of weight.
Since the aim of developing a "strategic partnership" with China was announced in 2003 – a decade ago - there are now stronger trade links, and we have established working policy dialogues across a wide range of fields.
On macro-economic policy coordination, we hold regular discussions on our respective economic policies at different levels, including with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance.
In recent years, the crisis has posed very serious challenges to our economies, different in nature and size but all of them underlying the importance of global economic governance to tackle problems that have effects that cross borders; that affect the world economy.
Today Europe is gradually emerging from the sovereign debt crisis, and China is settling on a more sustainable growth path. Still, we have seen plenty of uncertainty in the global economy in recent weeks, and that underlines the need for a globally coordinated response. There is a very strong case for us to work closely together between Europe and China both on a bilateral basis and in multilateral fora such as the G20 and the IMF.
China and Europe are both committed to making the G20 an even more effective forum for international economic policy coordination.
Today's meeting gave us an opportunity to discuss the outlook for the European economy, as well as the on-going work to strengthen our economic and monetary union, particularly the essential efforts underway to build the Banking Union.
We also had a useful exchange on the reforms that China is undertaking to ensure that it can sustain rapid, but more balanced, economic growth in the future. China faces the challenge of adapting its growth model from being investment driven, and rather resource and capital intensive, to one that is based more on rising consumer demand, with a higher quality of investment and growth. A central part of this adjustment will be reforms to the financial system, to improve the allocation of credit and to reduce the risk of speculative bubbles.
China is engaged in a wide range of reforms across many areas, including the energy sector, the financial system, and measures to address overcapacity. The Chinese leadership has been very clear and open about its determination to further reform.
In conclusion, this has been a very fruitful day. Exchanges such as the one we have had today are vital if we are to provide an effective global response to current and future economic challenges. By working together, we will be well-placed to provide the right framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth in Europe, in China, and in the whole world economy.
Thank you very much.
Statement by Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade:
Let me first echo Vice-President Rehn's remarks and thank Vice-Premier Ma Kai and his delegation for coming to Brussels for the High Level Economic Dialogue (HED) today.
This meeting should be a signal to every one of the importance we both attach to the bilateral relationship.
The High Level Economic Dialogue was set up to cover the breadth of our economic and trade relationship with the overall aim of deepening our strategic partnership for the future. And at the same time constructively dealing with a number of specific issues between the two economies.
Today was no exception, as we discussed areas ranging from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intellectual property to company financing to public procurement. We have also addressed management of trade frictions, and how to better manage our trading relationship more generally.
We were also able to discuss innovation, the challenges of urbanisation and Green Growth, which will be at the top of the agenda at the forthcoming EU-China Summit in November.
It is more than eighteen months since our leaders agreed at the EU-China Summit of February 2012 to launch negotiations for an investment agreement.
This is a priority for Europe and now that Member States have given us the green light on a negotiating mandate last week, this was certainly a main feature of our discussions today.
We are pursuing two main objectives in taking forward investment negotiations. On one side we will be looking to improve the protection of EU investments in China as well as Chinese investments in Europe, thereby improving legal certainty and predictability for investors.
But there is another critical element: A future agreement must cover improved access to the Chinese market. By reducing barriers to investing in China we will see increased bilateral investment flows. Market access and investment are natural partners. One without the other does not make any sense.
An ambitious investment agreement will also allow our trading relationship not only to deepen, but also to progress in new directions.
I would also like to flag our critical discussions on how to take forward our cooperation at the multilateral level.
The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali is less than two months away and will be a decisive moment for the multilateral agenda. WE need to show the world that we can get a deal on 'trade facilitation' for example. Bali is set to be 'make or break' time.
It is fair to say that both sides recognise that there is still work to be done by all WTO members. But as economic powerhouses, I believe both the EU and China share a determination to do everything we can to bring about a successful outcome.
Allow me to conclude by saying that the interdependence of our economies, and the opportunities and challenges it brings makes it all the more important to take the time for a strategic and forward-looking discussion at a high political level. Today's HED is a really valuable forum for us to discuss openly - the issues that matter most to each side.
Allow me to thank Vice Premier Ma Kai once again and say I look forward to the next HED in Beijing as well as our continued discussions and dialogue across the trade and investment agenda.