Brussels, 8 May 2009 - The European Union and China have called for an early and successful conclusion to the Doha Round of world trade talks, and pledged their commitment to closer cooperation to keep trade and investment flowing in the economic downturn.EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan spoke to the press following the second meeting of the EU-China High Level Trade and Economic Dialogue (HED), between the European Commission and the Chinese government. They reiterated the adherence of both the EU and China to the conclusions of the G20 summit in London, particularly highlighting the message that economic openness is vital to recover from the financial and economic crisis. The Dialogue was attended by a total of 14 Commissioners and Director Generals from the European Commission and 12 Chinese Ministers and Vice Ministers.
Commissioner Ashton said: "Trade and investment will lead us out of the current crisis. The EU and China therefore stand together today in calling for the swift conclusion of the Doha Round, which will help us trade our way out of recession. The message that we are sending to our businesses and our citizens is that we are working together in these difficult times."
Commissioner Ashton highlighted the fact that there had been good discussions on trade and technology including intellectual property rights, customs cooperation and trade in food. The two sides also had good exchanges on climate change and energy issues, including the low carbon economy, energy efficiency and energy performance standards. Another focus was jointly supporting the growth and trade opportunities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
During two plenary sessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, the two sides covered the following topics: Trade, investment and competition; small and medium-sized companies; customs cooperation; sustainable development including low carbon economy; energy; food safety and trade in food, consumer protection and product safety; healthcare; innovation and intellectual property rights; geographical indications; technology and information society; and transport.
Following the two days of meetings, Commissioner Ashton and Vice-Premier Wang attended a working lunch with CEOs and Chairpersons of leading European companies.
The High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue is a Chinese initiative, and was agreed on at the November 2007 Summit by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in order to address the imbalance in trade flows between the EU and China. The broad remit of the HED is to examine the global trading system; strategic bilateral trade-related issues; investment; innovation, technology and IPR; and EU-China economic cooperation. The mechanism is to function as a complement and reinforcement to established EU-China dialogues.
Remarks to Press by EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton
2nd Meeting of the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue - Brussels, 8 May 2009
First of all, I would like to thank Vice Premier Wang and the Chinese delegation for the cooperative spirit and constructive dialogue during our discussions. These two days of meetings have been a real opportunity to further our partnership.
Vice Premier Wang and I have chaired the 2nd High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue, with the participation of 12 Chinese Ministers and Vice Ministers and 14 Commissioners and Director Generals. Together, all of us have taken the time to focus on how to develop and take our relationship further. How to make it stronger.
I am proud to be working with the Vice Premier on this - and look forward to continuing and developing this relationship in the future. The main message of the last two days is one of partnership and confidence. Confidence in the future; confidence that working together we will come out of this economic downturn stronger.
That is why the Vice Premier and I are here today. Our meeting is a visible demonstration that EU and China are of the utmost importance to one another. Our economies are intertwined and interdependent.
We have shown that we can work together on setting the strategic direction of our relations, and that we can find ways of dealing with issues between us - and of importance to both of us. If we can do this we can be more effective in keeping our markets open for trade and investment, for instance in new technologies that benefit the environment.
That is the way forward. Trade and investment will lead us out of the current crisis. The EU and China therefore stand together today in calling for the swift conclusion of the Doha Round, which will help us trade our way out of recession.
So the message that we are sending to our businesses and our citizens is that we are working together in these difficult times.
I just want to highlight a few other areas that featured in our discussions today:
* We had very good discussions on trade and technology, including intellectual property rights. Vice Premier Wang called these discussions inspirational, and I agree with him.
* We talked about customs cooperation, which is vital in the fight against IPR infringement.
* There was a good exchange on trade in food, including Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) issues that are important facilitators for our bilateral trade.
* We also discussed a number of key issues regarding climate change and energy. These included the low carbon economy, energy efficiency and energy performance standards. Such discussions are important if we are to reach an agreement at the UN meeting on climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009.