The European Union and China are two of the biggest traders in the world. The relations between them have begun with the diplomatic ties established in 1975, and, in the last decade, the bilateral economic relations between the two are becoming wider and deeper.
Lots are the milestones that occurred over the time that helped the development of the relation between the EU and China. The first one is definitely China’s entry in the WTO in 2001 followed by the creation of the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2003 which has deepened and broadened cooperation between the two sides in a wide range of areas.
Other factors that helped the continuous improvement of the relationships are the increase of direct investments on both sides encouraged by the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation which puts an EU-China Investment Agreement as central to the EU’s long-term bilateral relations with China as well as the establishment of a large number of institutional forums of bilateral cooperation like the EU-China Energy Cooperation or the EU-China Research and Innovation Cooperation.
In the last years, the relationship between EU member states and China is undergoing a transformation that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated. According to the data released by Eurostat, in the first seven months of 2020, the bilateral trade volume between China and EU reached 387.7 billion euros, an increase of 2.6% over the same period last year. For the first time, China has become the largest trading partner of the EU, surpassing the trade volume between Europe and the U.S. by 5.2 billion euros. China is now the EU’s largest source of imports and the third-largest export market of the EU, accounting for 21.9% and 10.3% respectively.
At the same time, while the volume of investment and trade has maintained a steady growth, the areas of EU-China cooperation have been constantly expanding reaching fields like healthcare, green development and digital economy, these fields are a main concern for both sides, so, it is obvious that they are becoming the new main focus and growth point for bilateral cooperation.
In conclusion, as the chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU Zhou Lihong stated, at present, both China and Europe are designing their own long-term development plans. Many of their agendas are interlinked or complementary, so, in order to further promote the development of EU-China economic and trade cooperation, both sides should seize the opportunity of cooperation, solve problems in development on the basis of mutual respect, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.