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China expected to remain EU's top trading partner in 2021: scholar

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-02-26 21:29
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A reach stacker handles cargo containers at the Manzhouli Railway Station in Manzhouli, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on July 1, 2020. A record 12,406 China-Europe freight train trips were made in 2020, up 50 percent from the previous year, according to China's National Development and Reform Commission. [Photo/Xinhua]

ROME -- China, the only major economy to recover in 2020, will likely remain the European Union (EU)'s largest trading partner in 2021, a scholar based in Rome has recently said.

The year of "2020 was a singular year for EU-China relations," Silvia Menegazzi, a sinologist and professor of international relations at Rome's LUISS University, told Xinhua.

China surpassed the United States to become the EU's top trading partner last year, as the bloc's imports from China throughout 2020 grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year to 383.5 billion euros (about $465 billion) and exports grew by 2.2 percent to 202.5 billion euros (about $246 billion), according to the EU's statistical service Eurostat.

The year of 2020 also marked the 45th anniversary of EU-China diplomatic ties, and witnessed the completion of the EU-China investment agreement negotiations, she said.

From the European perspective, the goal of the agreement is to improve market access for European firms in China, Menegazzi said, adding that "from this point, the benefits for the EU are clear."

In the future, how the pandemic-induced economic crisis evolves will play a key role in EU-China trade relations, according to Menegazzi.

She predicted that China "will likely remain the EU's largest partner in 2021 because the other major actor -- the United States -- has suffered severe repercussions because of the pandemic."

According to Eurostat, in 2020, the EU's "trade with the United States recorded a significant drop in both imports (-13.2 percent) and exports (-8.2 percent)."

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