Joining Hands for Steady Economic Recovery
By Ambassador Yu Dunhai

The past year was an extraordinary one for the whole world. Hit by COVID-19, the global economy finds itself in the deepest crisis since WWII. International trade and investment has slumped, supply chains are disrupted and waves of bankruptcy and unemployment reinforce each other. People are asking, how can we mend the wound caused by the pandemic? Where is the global economy headed in the post-COVID era?

On 5th February, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended a high-level virtual dialogue with prominent European business leaders, where they exchanged in-depth views on the current situation of the world economy and its development outlook, China-Europe trade and investment cooperation, COVID-19 response, climate change and other issues of mutual interest.

Premier Li pointed out that China's economy has been deeply integrated into the world economy. China has achieved development and continued to improve its own development level through opening-up. The Chinese Government is committed to improving the business environment and leveling the playing field. There should not be any unreasonable restrictions on any types of enterprises. All parties should meet each other halfway, jointly safeguard international consensus such as multilateralism.

It is encouraging that despite the pandemic, trade between China and the EU continued to grow in 2020 and China has become the EU's largest trading partner for the first time. More importantly, at the end of last year, Chinese and EU leaders jointly announced the negotiations for China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) have completed as scheduled.

The CAI is a balanced, high-standard and mutually beneficial agreement covering areas such as market access commitments, rules on fair competition, sustainable development and dispute settlement. This is the most ambitious investment agreement offered by China so far. It adopts the model of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list. China, for the first time, makes commitments through the form of a negative list on all sectors including services and non-services.

The CAI will provide broader market access, a better business environment, stronger institutional guarantees and brighter cooperation prospects for mutual investment between China and the EU. It will also greatly boost world economic recovery in the post-COVID era, enhance the international community's confidence in economic globalization and free trade.

China and EU are both pursuing high quality development. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The Chinese Government is working on a road map. The EU, likewise, is committed to green development. The two sides share the same vision of promoting cooperation on clean energy, digital economy and smart manufacturing. There is huge market demand and bright prospects for collaboration.

Upholding the principle of building a community for all, China believes that sustainable development can only be achieved by enhancing global partnerships. China and Europe, as two major global forces, markets and civilizations, should demonstrate a sense of responsibility and take active steps to deepen cooperation and contribute to global economic recovery.

Malta, as a EU member, will also benefit from the CAI. China and Malta have complementary advantages. Practical cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries has not only brought economic benefits, but also contributed to Malta's CO2 emission reduction and its effort to counter climate change. I believe that the agreement will see more Chinese companies investing in Malta, which means more jobs, tax income and growth to support Malta's economic recovery.

As a Chinese poem reads, "Past a fallen ship, one thousand sail onward; for a sick tree, ten thousand thrive by spring." China stands ready to work with Malta and other EU countries to enhance cooperation and share development opportunities. Let's join hands and work together for a better tomorrow.

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This article was published in the Malta Independent on 15 February, 2021.

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