Eurotrip to Expansion
The Chinese premier's trip westward expands upon stalwart areas of China-EU cooperation and opens up entirely new ones
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UPDATED: July 6, 2015 NO. 28 JULY 9, 2015
Breaking New Ground

Building on four decades of sustained relations, China and the EU are ready to further their partnership. At the 17th China-EU Summit in Brussels on June 29, Premier Li Keqiang and EU leaders vowed to promote collaboration in a host of new areas.

At present, Sino-EU economic relations are at their best in history. The EU has been China's largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years while China has been the EU's second largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years. In 2014, bilateral trade surpassed $600 billion. By now, the EU's accumulated investment in China has approached $100 billion while that of China in the EU has exceeded $50 billion. In 2014, Chinese enterprises' investment in Europe surpassed that of European enterprises in China for the first time. With these achievements in mind, China wishes to further bilateral economic ties.

For instance, the two have agreed to carry out international production capacity cooperation. Premier Li's proposal to jointly explore third-party markets by making the most of their respective advantages has received a positive response from the European side. President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker indicated that the EU would like to expand substantial cooperation with China to promote employment and spur economic growth. The two sides also reached a consensus to enhance financial cooperation in order to provide funding for industrial investment. China is planning to set up a China-EU joint investment fund to complement the European Fund for Strategic Investments.

Notably, Li proposed China's bid to join the Belt and Road Initiative with the Investment Plan for Europe initiated by Juncker with the aim of resuscitating Europe's economy. The two sides decided to form a new mechanism for boosting connectivity and cooperation in infrastructure construction and will convene the first meeting as soon as possible. China and the EU have consented to pushing ahead bilateral investment treaty talks in a bid to advance free trade and investment. Li said as long as China and Europe can uphold the principle of mutual benefit in dealing with trade frictions, the two sides will be able to realize a trade volume of $1 trillion by 2020.

Climate appears poised to become another prominent area of collaboration. Following the release of the China-EU Joint Statement on Climate Change in Brussels, Li announced ambitious targets such as reducing China's carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent from the 2005 level by 2030, in Paris, the second leg of his trip to Europe.

The results and agreements reached during Li's visit indicate that cooperation between China and Europe has great potential. A new picture of more productive relations between the two is unfolding.

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