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E.U. should learn from Switzerland and Germany

(People's Daily Online)

16:35, May 29, 2013

From May 24 to 27, Premier Li Keqiang visited Switzerland and Germany. This is Prime Minister Li's first visit to European countries since taking office. Switzerland and Germany have set a model for the development of relations with China for the E.U.

Switzerland and Germany, one is a non-E.U. country, the other a big power in the E.U. and the euro region. The two have one thing in common, that they are pioneers developing economic and trade relations with China in Europe, and are the few countries that maintain balance of trade with China. Li chose the two countries for his first visit reflects that currently China highly values the development of China-E.U. economic and trade relations.

During Li's visit to Switzerland, China and Switzerland signed a preliminary bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), paving the way for the final agreement. This is China's first free trade zone with a country on European continent, and also China's first free trade zone with a world top 20 economy. With the FTA agreement entering into force, there will be a lot of changes, in particular the strengthening of bilateral economic and trade exchange, investment growth, which will enhance the economic benefit for both sides. For China, it will help China achieve industrial transformation goals. For Switzerland, China happens to be a big external market that small economy like Switzerland needs; there are direct benefits that China will help to improve Swiss products' competitiveness against Germany and other competitors. This is also the reason why some German business people envy the Sino-Swiss Trade Area Agreement.

Germany is Europe's pioneer in the development of China-E.U. economic and trade cooperation. German car companies such as Volkswagen, in particular, have gained the largest market share thanks to its early entry to the Chinese market. At present, the Sino-German relations have developed rapidly, especially in the bilateral trade volume, accounting for one third of China-E.U. trade. China and Germany are big manufacturing countries, and are also major exporters, but the bilateral economic and trade relations are roughly in balance. According to Chinese statistics, in the past two years, surplus has emerged in Sino-German trade, and it is growing. According to the German statistics, there is trade deficit with China, but the deficit is decreasing gradually. This is a very good sign for the two big manufacturing and exporting countries.

Read the Chinese version:欧盟该学学瑞士德国
Source: People's Daily Overseas Edition
Author: Zhang Jian, Dean of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

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