BY HANS DIETMAR SCHWEISGUT
In times of geopolitical uncertainties, the 20th EU-China summit will be an opportunity to show that our cooperation is important not only for Europe and China, but also for the rest of the world. We must support and strengthen the open, rules-based system of global governance, which is the basis for economic prosperity and sustainable globalization, and advance on issues like climate change, foreign policy and Eurasian connectivity.
Of course, the European Union as a global political actor and a major trading power must also pursue its legitimate interests. We have some concrete expectations concerning the directions of our future cooperation under the comprehensive strategic partnership with China.
The changing climate on trade and investment is a good moment for China to show public commitment and take concrete steps to open markets and establish a level playing field for European companies.
At the summit, we expect to exchange market access offers for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment between the EU and China. It should lead to an ambitious and comprehensive agreement of opening more sectors and providing investment protection above and beyond the standards already set out in the 27 existing bilateral agreements between China and EU countries.
This summit is an opportunity for the EU and China to prove our joint support for the WTO as the centre of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and turn words into actions by filling the gaps with new rules for a future global economy where the WTO can meet new challenges. The bilateral Working Group on WTO agreed in Beijing a few weeks ago by European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, should be a place where the EU and China show that they are ready to act now, swiftly and substantially, to show that our cooperation produces more robust results.
Another of the EU’s key objectives at the summit is to make decisive steps to conclude the negotiations for a bilateral agreement on protection of Geographical Indications (GIs). This will allow better protection of well-known European food brands in China. Conclusion of this agreement would make it the first international trade treaty between the EU and China, and send a strong signal for future cooperation in trade and investment.
We have also agreed to extend our cooperation under the EU-China Connectivity Platform. We will need to create synergies between China’s Belt and Road initiative and the EU’s own approach on sustainable connectivity between Europe and Asia, and we agreed to explore complementarities and synergies in this field, that is crucial for both China and the EU. The EU is currently working on a strategy on connecting Europe and Asia, to be released in the coming months.
A sign of the strength of our relationship is that the traditional economic and trade-related cooperation between the EU and China is constantly expanding on new areas: energy cooperation, circular economy and ocean governance, visa facilitation, work on illegal migration, cooperation on development and humanitarian assistance – notably Africa, counterterrorism to cybersecurity, to name a few.
We also want to make further progress on foreign and security policy, to move from common aspirations to specific and targeted cooperation. China’s constructive engagement has helped the continued implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran. Similarly, the EU and China must support the de-escalation on the Korean Peninsula where we have recently seen positive developments with regard to inter-Korean relations and where there is much international support for the reconciliation process as well as the dialogue between the DPRK and the US.
Human rights are always on the summit agenda. The EU-China Human Rights Dialogue that took place on July 9 in Beijing confirmed that this is an integral, important part of our relationship – one on which there are divergences but on which we can exchange in a constructive manner.
Last but not the least, in a world that is facing unprecedented climate and resource challenges, China and the EU recognize both the need for and the opportunities that come from transformation to a green, low carbon, circular economy. The EU and China are leading through action on climate, to deliver their Paris commitments by moving from words to policies and measures, such as carbon pricing and emissions trading, that cut emissions now and into the future. Both are accelerating reforms to transform a wasteful linear economy into a resource-efficient circular economy for the good of the environment, jobs and competitiveness.
Together we are showing others across the world that ambitious action is possible and that it is a part of a strategy for a strong economy. We are looking forward to the joint statement on climate to be adopted at the summit, along with enhanced cooperation on emissions trading and a circular economy.
(The author is EU Ambassador to China. firstname.lastname@example.org)