Forum held in Madrid to consolidate China, Europe ties

By Bai Yang, Jiang Bo, Ye Qi –Mareeg.com-About 30 politicians, experts and scholars from China and European countries gathered at Madrid, Spain on Nov. 22 for the China-Europe Forum on Reform and Globalization.

They conducted in-depth discussion and reviewed the process of China’s reform and opening up, exchanging views on China-Europe partnership, Sino-Spanish relations, trade facilitation and investment liberalization, and building an open global economy.
Bernard Dewit, chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Economic and Commercial Council (BCECC), said China’s reform and opening-up success attracted much attention and its steady development was a great contribution to the world. China had become an important force for global economic recovery especially after the 2008 economic crisis, he pointed out.

Dewit, who was in Shanghai earlier this month for the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), said he was impressed by China’s opening-up.

“Nowadays, more European enterprises are looking for business opportunities in China. The country, by expanding openness, improving business environment, and treating both European and domestic companies equally , will bring more opportunities for Europe,” Dewit said.

In the next 15 years, China will further open up its market. The country is expected to import $24 trillion worth of goods, attract $2 trillion foreign direct investment and invest a total of $2 trillion overseas.

In the period, the number of Chinese outbound tourists will hit 2 billion.
China’s expanding opening-up will create new opportunities to enhance China-Europe trade and economic cooperation on a wider scope and at a higher level.
Miguel Jiménez, editor-in-chief of Spanish financial newspaper Cinco Dias,said China had made breathtaking economic achievements over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, and its innovation capabilities for technologies had been improved markedly.

The Chinese government always laid importance on innovation and increases input in science and technology, which was worth learning for other countries, he added.

Chinese economist Liu Shijin told People’s Daily that the high-quality economic development of China would upgrade China-Europe cooperation, broaden the range of cooperation and create new grounds for growth.

Former Spanish ambassador to China Eugenio Bregolat Obiols expressed that both Europe and China were beneficiaries of economic globalization and free trade, as well as the protectors of rule-based multilateral trading system opposing unilateralism and protectionism.

The European Union (EU) remains China’s largest trade partner for 14 years in a row, and China is the second largest trade partner of the EU.

Javier Solana, former Spanish minister of foreign affairs and former secretary general of the Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics at ESADE, said China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) marked an important case of active integration into globalization, and the EU was a firm supporter of international trading rules.

Noting that the current world was faced with uncertainties, Solana suggested the EU and China be firmly committed to building an open world economy, promote trade facilitation and investment liberalization, resist protectionism and unilateralism, and push globalization toward a more open, balanced, inclusive and reciprocal direction.

The Eurasia is a key region for Belt and Road construction. So far, China has signed intergovernmental agreements on Belt and Road with 11 EU members. China-Europe freight trains have made more than 10,000 trips, reaching 43 cities in 15 European countries.

Lv Fan, Chinese ambassador to Spain, said the volume of Spain’s exports to China’s Yiwu through the China-Europe freight trains surged to $10.1 million in 2017 from less than $1.6 million in 2014.

China and Europe were respectively located in the eastern and western ends of the route of Belt and Road. The two countries could collaborate in more areas, expand channels of cooperation, explore new modes for economic growth, cooperation, governance and development, so as to share the dividends brought by interconnectivity of the Eurasia, said the ambassador.


Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com