Business / Economy

Premier Li's visit opens new chapter in China-EU economic ties

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-01 17:36

BEIJING - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the European Union has resulted in a hoard of new trade deals, which are expected to establish the highest level of bilateral economic and trade cooperation to date.

During Li's visit, the two economic giants expressed interest in linking the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), known as the Juncker Plan, with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and an international production capacity cooperation plan championed by Premier Li.

The premier proposed combining China's comparative advantages in production capacity and equipment manufacturing with the advanced technology of European economies. He called on the two sides to join hands in exploring third-party markets.

With both China and Europe facing the task of maintaining steady economic growth and optimizing their economic structure, analysts believe integration of their development strategies will boost the growth of both sides and provide new opportunities for China-EU economic ties.

Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said connecting Chinese and EU development strategies has become one of the highlights of Li's Europe visit.

"The integration of development strategies is expected to inject fresh impetus into China-EU economic ties, helping them achieve win-win cooperation and form a community of interests," he said.

The Belt and Road Initiative - namely the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road - was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the aim to revive the ancient trade routes between Asia and Europe, break infrastructure bottlenecks and boost efficient allocation of resources.

The Juncker Plan, named after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, is a 315 billion euro ($352 billion) plan to resuscitate Europe's economy and construct large infrastructure projects.

The EU's Juncker Plan involves transport, energy and infrastructure construction, giving a chance for China to offer its production capacity, technology and personnel advantages, Zhao said.

For EU, a positive response to the Belt and Road Initiative will help it escape the debt crisis and revive its economy, said Bai Ming, a senior researcher with a Ministry of Commerce think tank.

In addition, the entry of 18 European countries into the China-initiated multilateral bank Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) signified their stance and attitude for sharing Asian infrastructure investment, he said.

"The benefits (of the Belt and Road Initiative) are not just for China itself; Europe, too, (the initiative) stands to benefit from better connections with Asia's dynamic economies," Juncker told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The EU has been China's largest trading partner for 11 years while China has been the EU's second largest trading partner for 12 years. Bilateral trade volume increased from $2.4 billion in 1975 to $615 billion in 2014.

Exploring the third-party markets is another key topic on the premier's trip. During his visit to Paris, Li called on the two global heavyweights to jointly explore third-party markets and open new space for bilateral practical cooperation and help foster a sustainable global economic recovery.

"In the current world situation, tapping the potential of third-party markets helps boost the recovery of global economy and explore new ways of expanding both South-South and South-North cooperation," said Zhao Junjie.

Four decades after China and the EU formally established ties, 2015 can be a new, more prosperous chapter for relations between the two edges of Eurasia as both are mutually reinforcing global partners and not mutually excluding competitors, he said.

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