Brussels, 22 September 2009 - EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton has met with the representatives of European business to discuss challenges and opportunities of doing business in China. The President of the European Chamber of Commerce in China, Jörg Wuttke, was in Brussels to present the new European Chamber Position Paper, an annual report on the issues faced by European businesses investing in and trading with China. Philippe de Buck, Director General of Business Europe, also spoke on behalf of European companies.
Commissioner Ashton welcomed the Position Paper, and gave some impressions of her recent trip to China during an interactive session with representatives of the European Chamber and Business Europe.
Commenting on the meeting and the Position Paper, Commissioner Ashton said: "I welcome the important work of the European Chamber of Commerce in China. Their constructive approach is the right one to create new opportunities for trade and investment that will help us recover from the economic crisis."
Commissioner Ashton had just returned from a week-long trip to China where she met with key interlocutors, including Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Commerce Minister Chen Deming. The trip was to follow up on the second meeting of the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in May of this year. In her remarks today, Commissioner Ashton made the following points:
- The EU and China have to build confidence in one another to increase bilateral trade and investment.
- The EU and China do not disagree over protectionism – both sides believe that there is a need to guard against it if in order to fully recover from this economic downturn. That message must be got across to businesses and citizens.
- It is important that the two sides work together to open up new opportunities for investment. From a European perspective, companies are not looking for special treatment in China, just a level playing field.
- The two sides should continue discussions about public procurement, especially on participation in public projects linked to recovery packages.
- Protection for intellectual property rights (IPR) is crucial to ensure that our economies can continue to attract high-quality investment. IPR protection is important for China – both to attract more foreign investment and know-how, and to protect its own innovative industries. This is especially important for SMEs - in a global economy SMEs are among the most likely victims of intellectual property theft. They usually lack the means and capacity to enforce their rights.
The EU and China should work together to promote a low-carbon economy, including finding new opportunities for trade and investment in energy-saving technologies and renewables. This will help meet emissions targets and be a driver of future growth.