Experts and business leaders agree that closer economic and trade ties between China and European countries will benefit both sides and inject more positive factors into the global economy as it faces increasing recession threats. Despite decoupling pressure from the United States, the European Union should join hands with China to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties, as cooperation can help solve disputes, fuel growth and benefit the people.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to China sent a series of positive signals regarding China-EU relations. China and France signed a number of important agreements to deepen bilateral cooperation in traditional areas, such as aviation, aerospace and civilian nuclear energy, as well as in emerging sectors including green development and scientific and technological innovation.
During the visit, Macron stated that China and the EU should work with each other to stay away from the trap of economic decoupling and severing supply chains, and keep deepening the EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was also visiting China, said that the Chinese and EU economies are highly intertwined, and decoupling from China is neither in the EU’s interests nor the EU’s strategic choice.
As relations between China and the EU are at a crossroads, it is of great significance that France takes the initiative to set an example for other European countries to expand cooperation with China and oppose protectionism, said Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister of commerce and vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
China and France are expected to raise their economic and trade cooperation to a new level following the visit, and their bilateral trade will highly likely exceed $100 billion within two to three years, up from $81 billion last year. The two countries are also expected to strengthen cooperation in third-party markets, especially in Africa, to fuel growth and alleviate poverty together in the continent.
The high economic complementarity between China and France indicates huge potential for the two countries to expand trade and investment cooperation. “China’s unwavering opening-up and enormous domestic market will provide unparalleled opportunities for French enterprises, while the two countries are also likely to upgrade cooperation in industrial chains, especially in high-end manufacturing sectors,” said Zhang Jianping, head of the center for regional economic cooperation at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Further progress in China-France and China-EU relations is conducive to world economic recovery, as global growth is projected to remain around 3 percent over the next five years, which is the IMF’s lowest medium-term growth forecast since 1990, and well below the average of 3.8 percent over the past two decades.
French construction product manufacturer Saint-Gobain’s CEO for the Asia-Pacific region, Ludovic Weber, believes that the expected solid growth in China this year will underpin global economic recovery, and the country’s initiatives in low-carbon development will bring more opportunities to foreign companies, such as Saint-Gobain. The company will further enhance its production capacity of high-quality paper-faced gypsum board and construction gypsum powder to meet the surging demand of the construction market in China.