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EU-China trade and investment relations in challenging times

In this report, we have focused on trade and investment relations and have not attempted to define the many other policy instruments that the EU can and should pursue to increase its leverage towards China, and to protect its domestic economy while boosting domestic investment and trade.

By: , , , , , , and Date: June 4, 2020 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

This study was prepared for the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA). The study is available on the European Parliament’s online database, ‘ThinkTank‘. Copyright remains with the European Parliament at all times. 

This report examines key aspects of the European Union-China economic relationship, including trade, investment and China’s key strategic project overseas, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We conclude that China is, and will continue to be, a major trade and investment partner for EU countries. In this context, it seems clear that regardless of the direction of the United States-China relationship, the EU needs to explore options for fruitful co-existence with China.

Trade continues to be the least problematic aspect of the EU-China economic relationship, although challenges need to be dealt with in a number of areas. There is hardly any EU-China trade in services, and the value added of Chinese exports and competition on third markets is increasing. As for investment, although EU companies have built up more foreign direct investment in China than the other way around, Chinese investment in Europe is growing and has focused strongly on technology. This raises the question of whether the EU should fear losing its technological edge, especially when Chinese state-owned companies might distort competition, not only in China, but also overseas through acquisitions.

Finally, we review the significance of the BRI from the European perspective. The BRI offers potential trade gains for Europe by improving physical connectivity with countries along the route to China, but it also poses challenges for the EU. The main challenge is China’s increasing soft power, which is being felt in the EU’s neighbourhood and even in a growing number of EU countries. A more united approach to managing the EU-China economic relationship is required to improve the bargaining power of EU countries when dealing with China.

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Opinion

Trump’s International Economic Legacy

If Donald Trump loses the United States presidential election in November, he will ultimately be seen to have left little mark in many areas. But in the US's relationship with China, the decoupling of economic links could continue, and that could force Europe into hard choices.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 29, 2020
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Opinion

中歐峰會名不副實,未來之路漸行漸遠

視訊會議的討論充滿政治性和爭議性,很明顯繼2019年新的中歐戰略承認系統性對手的關係後,中歐之交再次降到新低。

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 22, 2020
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External Publication

Diversification and the world trading system

Diversification is important because it is associated with economic growth and reduced volatility.

By: Uri Dadush, Niclas Poitiers, Abdelaaziz Ait Ali, Mohammed Al Doghan, Muhammad Bhatti, Carlos Braga and Anabel González Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 16, 2020
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Opinion

Non-summit shows EU-China ties at new low

There was nothing concrete to justify calling this video conference an EU-China Summit.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 16, 2020
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Opinion

China Has an Unfair Advantage in the EU Market. What Can Be Done to Level the Playing Field?

This article has originally been published in Brink News. The dominance of Chinese state-owned enterprises in China’s domestic market is giving them unfair advantages in the European Union single market as well. The EU Commission recently released a series of recommendations for leveling the playing field regarding foreign subsidies. Unfortunately, while useful, these ideas are unlikely to […]

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 28, 2020
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Blog Post

Ukraine: trade reorientation from Russia to the EU

Over the past five years conflict has led to a deterioration of Russo-Ukrainian economic relations while ties with the EU have been deepened. This shift is evident in trade flows: the European Union has become Ukraine’s biggest trading partner, while China is poised to overtake Russia as its second. Natural gas imports from Russia, Ukraine’s prior Achilles heel, have been partially replaced by reverse deliveries from the EU and reduced as result of reform of the gas sector.

By: Marek Dabrowski, Marta Domínguez-Jiménez and Georg Zachmann Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 13, 2020
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Blog Post

Europe’s China problem: investment screening and state aid

China’s state capitalist economy poses a challenge to EU openness to foreign investment. In response, the European Commission 17 June published a White Paper on “levelling the playing field with regard to state aid”, contemplating sensible and balanced policies to protect the integrity of the European single market from subsidised foreign acquisitions. However, against the backdrop of collapsing global capital flows and limited existing FDI from China, there is little risk of excessive exposure, indeed a deepening of bilateral investment flows would be beneficial for both economies.

By: Marta Domínguez-Jiménez and Niclas Poitiers Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 2, 2020
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Opinion

COVID-19 and India: economic impact and response

This piece was published the day before India imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns in its response to the COVID-19 response. It remains relevant in assessing the government's actions in the ten weeks that have since passed.

By: Suman Bery Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 27, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

Keeping trade open during and after Covid-19

This event examines the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on open markets and connected supply chains globally.

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham and Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 30, 2020
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Blog Post

What the EU should do and not do on trade in medical equipment

The European Union has introduced export controls on some medical supplies. This was a mistake. It should announce that it is withdrawing the measure, and call on other countries to do the same.

By: André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 25, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

CANCELLED: India-EU Partnership: New Vistas for the Next Decade

Policymakers, academics and private sector actors from the EU and India come together to work on common issues and explore further areas of cooperation.

Speakers: Yamini Aiyar, Suman Bery, Navroz K Dubash, Alicia García-Herrero, Rajat Kathuria, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Ananth Padmanabhan, Georgios Petropoulos, André Sapir, Shyam Saran, Simone Tagliapietra and Marc Vanheukelen Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: India International Centre, Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, Delhi, India Date: March 12, 2020
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Blog Post

What can the EU learn from the China-Switzerland free trade agreement?

The US-China trade war has placed EU trade relations with China under the microscope. Should the EU challenge China’s trade practices and employ trade defence measures? Or should they be diplomatic and embark on negotiations, perhaps paving the way to a Free Trade Agreement? Close examination of the 2013 agreement between China and Switzerland suggests much will have to change for trade negotiations between China and the EU to succeed.

By: Uri Dadush and Marta Domínguez-Jiménez Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 3, 2020
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