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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Address by President Barroso to the 9th EU-China Business Summit
EU-China Business Summit/Beijing
21 November 2013
President Van Rompuy,
Dear Chairmen of the Business Associations of Europe and China,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be back in Beijing and to address the Business Forum on the occasion of the 16th EU-China Summit. This is not an ordinary Summit. This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. And by the way, we also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of our EU Delegation to China.
I mention both in the same breath because to me, they are a symbol of the scope of our partnership: from high-level policy commitments to people working closely together on the ground to foster better understanding and closer cooperation. This Business Summit and the Urbanisation Partnership that is taking place in parallel to our work is a prime example of this approach. Ultimately, strategic partnerships do not rely on contacts between officials and policy commitments alone. They rely on people.
People like you from the business community. People who translate political will into tangible actions and results. This is why I very much appreciate this interaction between the political level and the practitioners, the doers. Those that create, by their initiative, jobs and growth both for China and for the European Union. We know too well that without a vision, a framework, decisive actions are not taken and in turn without concrete action the visions will never make a difference.
This is why the framework, the skeleton of our strategic partnership needs the life blood of our economic flows. Trade and investment are vital parts of our relationship. They link our economies on a daily basis. They make a difference in our peoples' lives for the better.
Today's global economy is a highly interwoven system. Countries around the globe are connected by arteries of trade and investment. The gross value of world exports in 2012 represented a quarter of the world GDP. The total values both of foreign investment held abroad and sales of foreign affiliates were more than 30 per cent of the world's output, which shows how much we are interlinked in this globalised world of the 21st century.
Such a system cannot be managed by individual governments alone. Instead, cooperation between partners is essential. Cooperation between the European Union and China is particularly important in this respect. We represent two major players in the global system, covering more than a third of global GDP and almost a third of global trade.
Today’s Summit is both recognition of the importance of our cooperation and also an opportunity to intensify this cooperation.
The European Union and China are engaged in serious economic reforms. In Europe we are strengthening the governance of the euro area and working to boost competitiveness at national level. We have achieved financial stability and the Euro remains a strong, stable and credible currency. Recovery is now within sight and we need to sustain it, many challenges remain but we are much better now than 1, 2, or 3 years before. China is also seeking to rebalance its economy, into a more domestic, sustainable and market driven growth.
We feel encouraged by the recent decisions here in China to pursue a series of economic and social reforms that would further open China’s economy and give greater role to market forces. Deep and ambitious reforms will support sustainable growth in China, contribute to upgrading the economy and give more opportunities for private economic operators in China, Chinese and also foreign operators.
In this respect today’s Summit could not be timelier. We have discussed these matters and seen how our respective growth strategies could be mutually supportive. This is important because we have a common interest in each other’s success. This is and should be seen as a win-win relationship. We have a stake in Chinese future and China has also a stake in Europe’s future.
Our trade relationship has expanded a hundredfold since 1979. It is now worth 3.6 trillion Yuan a year, around 430 billion euro a year. Our domestic policies affect each other more and more. We cannot afford not to speak to each other; we cannot afford not to cooperate. But we should also do it because we want to, because we like to and not just because we need to.
Interdependence and increased exchange can also sometimes lead to friction. This is normal when the volume of this relationship is increasing in such an important dimension. But it is always important not to lose sight of the broader strategic picture. A moment of discord should not obscure a decade of growing concord.
In such situations we have to be able to solve problems and make progress through negotiation. At the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue a month ago, we further discussed how to build on this. We need to use well these mechanisms to foster dialogue, to avoid misperceptions and to find solutions, based on international law and our respective commitments in the WTO.
One area that requires our attention is foreign direct investment. The value of our trade has gone from strength to strength. But our investment ties still lag behind. Europe's investments in China add up to less than two per cent of the EU's total investments abroad. At the same time, China's investments in the EU, while growing, still account for less than one per cent of EU's total Foreign Direct Investment inflows. So you see the potential here is immense.
That is why together with Premier Li, we have decided to launch the negotiations for a broad and comprehensive investment agreement at todays’ EU-China Summit. This is indeed a great success for China and the European Union.
This agreement provides for the progressive liberalisation of investment. It leads towards reciprocity in access for EU and Chinese investors to each other's markets. Companies operating in Europe and China would be able to work on a more level playing field – regardless of their origin or ownership structure.
Finally, investors from either side will have a simpler and more secure legal framework. Enhanced legal certainty and predictability are essential for a long term investment relationship.
Access to our respective markets will be improved and 27 existing bilateral investment protection treaties between EU Member States and China will be replaced by a single comprehensive text, giving all the Chinese operators abroad much better security regarding the actions they can have in the European internal market, that is by value the biggest in the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As global partners what we do bilaterally affects also the rest of the world. And as 2 of the 3 largest economies in the world we also have a particular responsibility towards the global economy.
We are both working hard to prepare December's Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali. In the G20 both China and the European Union have been fighting against any temptation to protectionism. And we need to cooperate to support free trade internationally.
China's request to join the negotiations for a Trade in Services Agreement presents another opportunity for us to look ahead together. The expansion of the service sector is very important for China's continuing economic development. European companies with their cutting edge services can contribute, I'm sure, to this process.
To conclude, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me say that China’s development in the past 30 years has been one of the most impressive success stories if our age. The aspirations of several generations have come true. And I believe that Europe, with its open markets, with its cooperation, has also been giving a contribution to this Chinese success story.
Now China is looking for a new dream and preparing the next stages of its development. It is for China and the Chinese to forge this dream themselves. We very much respect your sovereign choices.
But when it comes to make that dream a reality, Europe and European companies will be again the best partner that China can have. This is what I have been working for in these last 10 Summits, and this is what the European Union will be doing not only for the next 10 years, but also for the very distant future.
Thank you for your attention.