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Xinhua:Chinese enterprises record modest growth in EU but sentiment declines: report

Xinhua| Updated: Nov 6, 2021

BRUSSELS -- Chinese enterprises recorded modest growth in the European Union (EU) in 2020, but sentiment continues to decline on ease of doing business there, according to an annual report released by the China Chamber of Commerce to the EU (CCCEU).

The report estimated that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese enterprises recorded a total turnover of 150.3 billion euros (175 billion U.S. dollars) in the 27 EU member states last year, up 1.4 percent year-on-year.

"According to the overall evaluation by Chinese enterprises, the ease of doing business in the EU in 2021 declined for the second consecutive year with significantly lower scores for the political climate and the business environment in comparison to the past," it said.

The report, entitled "Strengthening Mutually Beneficial Cooperation to Shape the Common Future," was launched jointly by the CCCEU and global consultancy Roland Berger on Monday. The CCCEU was inaugurated in Brussels in April 2019 and this was its third annual report.

Xu Haifeng, chairman of the CCCEU, said at the launch event that China is now the EU's top trading partner in goods despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

"China-Europe freight train services surged by 50 percent in 2020," Xu said, adding that with the China-EU Geographical Indications Agreement coming into effect, the two sides "have mutually recognized and protected 244 geographical indications" by July this year.

China's economic rebound, strong demand in Europe and a resilient supply chain all played a role in the growth of bilateral trade, he said.

According to Xu, the EU's significance as an overseas investment destination is rising and the Chinese business community stays confident in the long-term development of China-EU economic relations, ready to contribute to the bloc's ongoing twin green and digital transitions.

However, according to the report's findings, Chinese enterprises are also concerned about the EU's several unilateral trade instruments, its increasing tendency of "inward-looking" and a rising trend of politicizing business in the bloc.

The report lists nearly 70 recommendations in ten areas for improving the EU's business environment, including to intensify policy dialogues in areas such as information disclosure and public procurement, strengthen strategic mutual trust and understanding, and properly handle differences under bilateral or global frameworks in a pragmatic manner.

According to the statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and other authorities, by the end of 2020, Chinese investors had set up 2,800 enterprises in the EU, covering all its 27 member states, and employed some 250,000 foreign employees.