China Daily (Hong Kong)
China, EU eye next step of cooperation
Investment protection deal mulled as bloc unveils plans for trade strategy
China is on course to become the world’s largest economy in the coming years. So clearly engagement with China is very important in this regard.”
The European Union and China have set their eyes on a bilateral investment protection agreement after they concluded in principle the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, or CAI, according to a senior EU official.
The deal concluded on Dec 30 covers market access, fair competition and sustainable development regarding investment, but left out investment protection for a separate agreement.
European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Thursday the EU, after the conclusion of CAI, is envisioning its next step of cooperation with China by working on an investment protection agreement.
“That’s the next practical step,” he told a news conference on EU’s trade strategy.
China surpassed the US as EU’s largest trading partner for the first time in 2020, said a report by Eurostat, EU’s statistics agency. Over the past year, the EU-China trade value hit $711 billion, compared to $673 billion between EU and the United States.
Dombrovskis, also European Commissioner for Trade, said China’s role in the global economy has increased substantially over the last decade.
“China is on course to become the world’s largest economy in the coming years. So clearly engagement with China is very important in this regard,” he said.
The former Latvian leader said the EU hopes for China’s constructive engagement on reform of the World Trade Organization.
Dombrovskis has engaged closely with senior Chinese officials. He and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He co-chaired the virtual 8th High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue in July. The two held calls in April and December to push forward the CAI.
Zhang Ming, the Chinese ambassador to the EU, told Portuguese media on Jan 29 he believes that major progress will be made toward the ratification of CAI during Portugal’s presidency at the Council of the EU during the first half of the year.
Dombrovskis said on Thursday the EU hopes to discuss with the new US administration bilateral
Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission executive vice-president
trade irritants and cooperation on multilateral issues. The EU has indicated for both sides to suspend tariffs, including the US tariffs on steel and aluminum and the punitive tariffs they imposed on each other in relation to the AirbusBoeing dispute. He expects discussions to start once the new US trade representative is in place.
US President Joe Biden has not made major moves in reversing his predecessor Donald Trump’s trade policy.
Earlier in the day, Dombrovskis warned Biden over his “Buy American” plans. He said the EU would closely monitor whether preferential treatment for US contractors on public projects contravened international commitments, Politico reported. “We will be assessing to which extent the US complies with its (WTO) commitments under the global procurement agreement,” he said.
A new EU trade strategy released on Thursday focuses on an open, sustainable and assertive approach.
The European Commission said the strategy builds on the EU’s openness to contribute to economic recovery through support for green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure they are fair and sustainable.
Iana Dreyer, founding editor of Borderlex.eu, the leading European publication on trade policy, wrote in a tweet on Thursday “the new strategy confirms the EU’s shift toward a more defensive approach to trade policy focused on advancing its domestic policy agenda in a context of rising international tensions.”
HONG KONG — Born and raised in Hong Kong, Steven Chan is chasing his dream in Chinese mainland cities of the GuangdongHong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Attracted by the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, Chan moved to Guangdong province in 2015 and has since then worked in the financial sector there. Chan, in his 30s, described settling down in mainland cities as an inevitable decision for an ambitious young man like him.
While Hong Kong has a comparatively simple industrial structure, the Greater Bay Area as a whole owns more complete industrial chains and vibrant markets, as well as enormous demand for financial services, which offers professionals a much broader arena to realize their aspirations, Chan said.
Decades ago, Chan’s father was among the first Hong Kong entrepreneurs entering the mainland markets after the country’s reform and opening-up started.
Influenced by his family, Chan has been longing for setting up his own career in the mainland since childhood and his dream has eventually come true.
After graduating from the university, Chan at first was employed by a public company in Hong Kong and then moved to Shenzhen to seek more opportunities. With enough work experience, he eventually got a dream job in a Stateowned financial leasing company in Guangzhou.
The spirit of the Greater Bay Area (in my mind) is to be united, help each other and work for mutual benefits.”
Steven Chan, a young man from Hong Kong
As more and more dream chasers like Chan coming to the Greater Bay Area, the mainland governments have rolled out a string of favorable policies to help them settle down and stretch their wings.
“I can feel the care in every possible way,” Chan said. He has enjoyed tax concessions, housing allowances and transportation subsidies, among others. His employer offered him the chance to study at public expense, and a Hong Kong-funded bank operating in the mainland granted him a preferential interest rate for his house mortgage.
“Such policies made Hong Kong young people like me feel at home,” Chan said.
After five years working in the mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area, Chan said residents there lead a life by no means inferior to global metropolises, with high-quality education and healthcare, fast transport networks and extensive use of technological innovation in everyday life.
Even nowadays, Chan is still often surprised by the speed and quality of the rapid development of the Greater Bay Area.
Apart from his own success, Chan also strived to help others seize opportunities in the Greater Bay Area. As of 2020, he has assisted nearly a thousand young people from Hong Kong, Macao and China’s Taiwan in setting up their own businesses, participating in internship programs, or studying in the mainland.
“The spirit of the Greater Bay Area (in my mind) is to be united, help each other and work for mutual benefits,” Chan said, encouraging Hong Kong young people to be creative and courageous and struggle for a better future with the Lion Rock Spirit.