Mutual trust and a win-win spirit essential in China-EU economic cooperation
November 14, 2023. Shanghai – With the comprehensive strategic partnership of China and the EU at a crossroads in the year of its 20th anniversary, what have two of the world’s leading economies achieved over the past two decades of trade and collaboration? More urgently, what does the future hold for the relationship in terms of bilateral green energy cooperation and other pressing issues?
Against the backdrop of a global climate that demands answers to these vital questions, the CEIBS Brussels Forum took place at dual venues in Brussels and Shanghai today, with decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and experts from China and the EU coming together to explore future China-EU economic cooperation.
During her welcome speech, CEIBS President Wang Hong noted that over the past 20 years, China-EU economic and trade exchanges have been expanding in scale, with trade volume having increased nearly nine-fold. EU investment in China has almost tripled, while two-way investment stock now exceeds $230 billion.
She stated that the growing momentum behind China-EU relations plays a crucial role in the two sides engaging with global issues and propelling international economic development.
“The theme of this year’s forum, ‘Mutual Trust and Win-Win', not only reflects the spirit of China-EU cooperation, but also provides us with a framework of ideas on how to deepen cooperation in a new global context,” President Wang said.
Executive Director of the EU-China Business Association Gwenn Sonck then shared her belief that while doing business amid today’s global climate is becoming increasingly complex, China continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and the European and Chinese economies remain interdependent.
“According to our latest survey of EU businesses in China, 60% of EU companies still find China an attractive market for investment,” Ms. Sonck said, adding that the Chinese market remains a popular destination for many EU businesses due to the long-term business opportunities it offers and the country’s growing middle-class population.
“We also welcome the recent 24 policies issued by the Chinese government to improve the business and investment environment for foreign enterprises in China, which will boost the confidence of foreign enterprises investing in China,” she said.
In his keynote speech, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union Fu Cong highlighted that amid an uncertain global landscape and regional conflicts, China-EU relations not only concern the interests of the two sides, but also have great global significance.
Given this, he proposed three factors that could contribute to a closer bilateral relationship between the two partners.
“First, we should strengthen communication and dialogue to increase mutual trust,” he explained, adding that the frequent top-level interactions and dialogues on environment and climate, digital economy and trade, and strategic issues between Chinese and EU leaders during the past few months have produced wide-ranging agreement and laid a solid foundation for the upcoming 24th China-EU Summit.
“Second, we should take more concerted actions to manage our differences. The key is to have a positive and proactive attitude and jointly find the right solution. Lack of cooperation will only bring bigger risks. Decoupling and protectionism, whichever names they go by, should be rejected.”
“Third, we need to be more innovative in expanding areas of cooperation, including climate change, biodiversity, energy and food security, public health, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” he said. It is therefore our responsibility to complement each other’s strengths and build on these platforms of cooperation to deliver prosperity for the world. In summing up, Mr. Fu asserted “these are my three key words to lift our relationship: Communication, Action, and Innovation, or CAI in brief.”
In a video message, Ambassador of the European Union to China Jorge Toledo pointed out that the EU remains the world's number one trader with the world’s largest network of free trade agreements and will continue to be a global powerhouse of both inward and outward investment.
“We walk the talk on level playing field, free trade and openness,” Mr. Toledo said.
Despite numerous challenges and varying values and beliefs between China and the EU, he continued, the EU hopes that China can play an even greater role in tackling global issues.
“The EU aspires to have a relationship of mutual trust with China, one which delivers benefits for both sides and can be as stable as to envision how economic cooperation will look like 20 years down the road,” he said.
The event also featured two roundtable discussions moderated by CEIBS President (European) and Professor of Marketing Dominique Turpin and Aspen Institute Central Europe Founder and President Ivan Hodac on the themes of Creating Stronger EU-China Economic Ties and Climate Change Challenges and EU-China Green Energy Cooperation Opportunities, respectively.
In his closing speech, Former Director General of the World Trade Organisation and CEIBS Distinguished Professor Pascal Lamy noted that CEIBS is a successful example of China-EU cooperation.
“China and the EU have much to offer in the next 20 years, especially in the areas of economy and social development, climate change, carbon reduction, and biodiversity, which require constant dialogue and interaction among high-level leaders,” Prof. Lamy said.
President of EFMD and Member of the CEIBS Board of Directors Eric Cornuel emphasised that over the past three decades, CEIBS has been at the forefront of shaping business education and has acted as a guiding light for the world’s business education institutions.
“In the current geopolitical environment, I call for closer cooperation between China and the EU to create a more inclusive environment, where both sides can better understand each other,” Mr. Cornuel urged.
Chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU Xu Chen then further noted that despite current challenges in China-EU relations, there are positive signs in important areas. The key to addressing these challenges, he explained, ultimately lies in open and respectful dialogue to enhance mutual understanding and achieve win-win outcomes.
CEIBS President (European) Dominique Turpin concluded the forum by outlining the importance of “IMPACT”: I for Innovative Ideas, M for Mutual Understanding, P for Pragmatism, A for Action, C for Constructive Communication, and T for Trust.
“CEIBS will continue to serve as a bridge for dialogue and exchange,” he concluded.
CEIBS is the only business school in China to be jointly established by the Chinese government and European Union. The school offers MBA, Finance MBA, EMBA, Global EMBA, Hospitality EMBA, DBA (Switzerland) and Executive Education programmes. CEIBS has placed in the top tier of the Financial Times’ ranking of global MBA programmes for seven consecutive years and has been ranked 2nd on its global EMBA list for four consecutive years.
Since its launch in 2012, the annual CEIBS Europe Forum Series has hosted nearly 30 overseas forums in eight countries, featuring more than 200 keynote speakers and attracting more than 8,000 participants from government, industry, and academia. With a focus on the most pressing issues of the day, the forums serve to maintain open dialogue between China and the world and to promote cooperation in tackling the challenges that affect us all.