China has become the largest trading partner of the European Union, with trade volume between the two sides increasing 5.3 percent to 4.5 trillion yuan ($695.50 billion) in 2020, according to the latest customs data released on Thursday.
The deepening economic and trade cooperation between China and the Europe has boosted economic ties, and will give a strong boost to world economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, a People's Daily report said.
Despite the huge impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to the international air cargo market, European's largest aviation group - Air France-KLM- has explored more freight market, thanks to the steady increase and market demand between China and Europe.
"China is our most valued market with great potential for cooperation," said Toon Balm, general manager of Air France KLM Greater China, in an interview with People's Daily.
The Liege Airport, Belgium's largest airport in terms of cargo throughput, registered cargo volume of 1.12 million tons last year, up 24 percent on a year-on-year basis. This is largely due to the continued growth of trade between Europe and China, reported Belgian broadcaster RTBF. Protective materials and electronic components are shipped from China to Europe, helping Europe fight against the pandemic and boosting work and production resumption as well.
According to China State Railway Group, the China-Europe freight trains hit new record of 12,400 journeys in 2020, transporting 1.14 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers of goods, an increase of 50 and 56 percent on a yearly basis, respectively. 76,000 metric tons or 9.31 million pieces of anti-epidemic supplies were delivered via China-Europe freight trains last year, enhancing international medical cooperation to combat outbreak, and stabilizing global industrial chain.
The pandemic has not shaken the investment confidence of European enterprises to China, as 89 percent of European companies plan to stay in China, and two-thirds of enterprises list China as the top three investment destinations, according to a survey conducted by European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, the report said.
L'Oreal China has witnessed 20.8 percent growth in the first three quarters of 2020, with growth in e-commerce business and high-end cosmetics market leading the charge, said Fabrice Megarbane, president of North Asia Zone and CEO of L'Oreal China, to People's Daily. China has a huge consumer base, which has created favorable conditions for the rapid development of the digital economy, he added. Jean-Philippe Poulin, China region president of French yeast producer Lesaffre, also noted that the group has continued to increase investment in China. The open market of China means opportunities to the world, he said.
Some Chinese enterprises, on the other hand, have increased their investment in the European market as well. Chinese battery maker SVOLT Energy Technology decided to inject 2 billion euros to set up battery plant and R&D center in Germany. The factory is projected to produce 300,000 to 500,000 batteries for electric vehicles, and create around 2,000 jobs. Lenovo Group also announced a plan to build a new assembly line in Ullo town, Pest county, Hungary, to produce personal computers and conduct R&D at its data center.
China and Europe have completed investment agreement negotiations as scheduled last year. As a balanced, high-standard and mutually beneficial agreement, the treaty has shown China's determination and confidence to push high-level opening-up. The agreement will provide greater market access, higher level of business environment, stronger institutional guarantees and brighter cooperation prospects for mutual investment. The treaty will also greatly boost world economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, enhance the international community's confidence in economic globalization and free trade, making significant contributions to the building of an open world economy.
Joerg Wutt, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said the on schedule conclusion of the investment agreement has given a strong boost to multilateralism and free trade, which will bring substantial benefits to both sides, including more product choices and more market opportunities.
Ambassador Zhang Ming, head of Chinese Mission to the EU, said China's construction of the new development paradigm will lead its economy to a path of high-quality growth. EU companies can also seize opportunities for development as the two sides are forging green partnerships and digital partnerships.