Europe viewed as partner in recovery

Source: China Daily, 19th March 2021

China’s rebound can spur joint efforts to hasten global growth, experts point out

With China’s economy moving out of the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say it is imperative that China and Europe deepen cooperation in accelerating the pace of the global recovery.

In the Government Work Report delivered at the opening of the National People’s Congress on March 5, Premier Li Keqiang said China is aiming for growth in GDP of more than 6 percent in 2021 from the previous year, in order to maintain a sustainable economic expansion. The target is well aligned with the annual goals set out for the subsequent years in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.

Ben Cavender, managing director at China Market Research Group, said: “China’s economic growth targets for 2021 look to be achievable and my guess is that China will be able to maintain similar growth over the next few years.

“China is in a good position to benefit from the global economic recovery that we are likely to see through the end of this year and, at the same time, is continuing to modernize its domestic economy and take on more leadership in fast-growing industries.”

China was the world’s only major economy to register economic growth last year, with its gross domestic product expanding 2.3 percent from the previous year.

“It is very interesting to observe that the countries which acted early and decisively against COVID-19 reaped an early and sustained bounty in economic terms,” said Chris Rudd, deputy vice-chancellor and head of the Singapore campus for Australia’s James Cook University. China’s early recovery from a crisis of unknown proportions provided other regions with hope for their own future prospects, he said.

“It is widely reported that COVID-19, and the respective responses of China and the United States, will accelerate China’s re-emergence as the leading global economy, shaving several years off previous projections of that event,” Rudd said.”Irrespective of any of the above, the kick-starting of consumption by the world’s most populous nation is good news for everyone.”

Shoring up fundamentals

While China looks to shore up its economic fundamentals and works to expand its economy this year on the back of its success in containing the coronavirus’ spread, countries in Europe are scrambling to bring down infection numbers. Vaccine rollouts in that region are expected to ease some of the economic adversities in the second half of this year.

“It will be important for the EU,Britain and China to find areas of economic cooperation,” Cavender said.

“As Europe’s economy starts to recover, they should be looking at how they can create trade deals with China that offer an overall benefit to European firms that have struggled throughout the past year.”

Jochum Haakma, chairman of the EU-China Business Association in Brussels, said: “I have always been a great believer that China and Europe can and should cooperate on a mutual beneficial basis in many fields and the conclusion of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is a practical step in the right direction.”

He said he believes that China’s much more proactive involvement in the modernization of the World Trade Organization’s rules will benefit trade relationships with other countries. “Europe and China are each other’s biggest trade and investment partners already, so there is always room for more and better cooperation and a level playing field.” Haakma added.

Rudd points out a change of political dynamics within the European Union could also favor Sino-European collaboration.

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an important leader within the EU bloc, due to retire, Rudd said:”Looking at the relative seniority (and stability) of other European leaders, it is perhaps inevitable that (French) President (Emmanuel)Macron will seek to fill this void and his federalist leanings mean that all overseas partners, China and Vietnam in particular, would be well placed to exploit their historical friendships.”