European leader touts advantages of summit
Updated: 2013-11-20 01:32
By Miao Xiaojuan in Beijing and Fu Jing in Brussels (China Daily)
The upcoming Sino-EU summit will allow the two sides to enhance their strategic partnership to better face future challenges, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.
Barroso also said the relationship "must continue to be a major source of economic growth, jobs, development and innovation for both sides".
Barroso made the remarks ahead of the 16th Sino-EU summit on Thursday, when he and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for the first time since China’s leadership transition in March.
China and the EU will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of their comprehensive strategic partnership.
"We are at an important juncture, and the summit is of special significance ... It will be an important moment to look forward to the next decade of cooperation between the EU and China," Barroso said.
The summit is set to cover all-round cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields.
In particular, negotiations about a bilateral investment treaty will be launched to clear barriers for market access and boost two-way investment.
Other events will include a high-level urbanization forum, a business summit, an innovation dialogue, a high-level energy meeting, a regional policy dialogue, and a Sino-EU expert seminar on youth entrepreneurship.
Barroso said he is convinced that China’s plans for a green economy and massive urbanization will offer plenty of business opportunities for both sides.
In particular, European companies with the technical know-how can help achieve a higher quality of life for the 1.35 billion inhabitants in China, he said.
The EU, with its 28 member states, has the world’s largest single market with half a billion consumers and an annual GDP of 12.6 trillion euros ($17 trillion).
China is the world’s second-largest economy with rapid growth in its industrialization and urbanization.
The EU is China’s largest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second-largest after the United States as well as its largest source of imports. Up to 6 million people travel every year between the EU and China.
Total bilateral trade volume last year exceeded 430 billion euros, or a fourfold increase from 10 years ago, creating badly needed jobs and business opportunities on both sides.
"The EU and China have become highly interdependent," Barroso said, proposing a long-term approach to move forward the well-established strategic partnership.
"We look forward to setting out the direction for further strengthening our comprehensive strategic partnership to face the future challenges."
While trade flows between China and the EU are worth more than 1 billion euros a day, the current bilateral investment volume is far below what is expected or desired. Only 2 percent of the EU’s foreign direct investment is in China, compared to nearly 30 percent in the US.
The Commission was given a mandate last month to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty with China. The summit should be the right time to launch the negotiations, Barroso said.
"This agreement will boost bilateral investment flows by providing a simpler and more secure and predictable framework to investors for a long-term investment relationship," he said.
Xinhua contributed to this story.