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Visitors visit the European Union food stand during the 4th China International Import Expo in Shanghai on November 7. Economic and trade cooperation between the EU and China has proven resilient and vigorous despite COVID-19. (Photo for China Daily)

Although the global economy is facing increasing uncertainty and sluggish growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic, economic and trade cooperation between China and Europe can act as a countervailing force and help stabilize the world.

Economic and trade cooperation between the European Union and China has proven to be resilient and vigorous despite the negative consequences of COVID-19.

China has overtaken the US to become the EU’s biggest trading partner in 2021, with bilateral trade volume reaching record highs. Last year, the EU also became China’s second largest trading partner, and in the first two months of 2022 it overtook the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for first place.

In 2021, bilateral trade between China and the EU stood at over $800 billion, a new all-time high. Bilateral investments exceeded $270 billion. Bilateral trade has increased significantly in various sectors, such as aerospace, biology, electronics and others.

The two sides have improved and expanded their communication channels, including the EU-China high-level economic and trade dialogue, as well as regular consultations between local governments and businesses.

Juergen Friedrich, chairman and CEO of Germany Trade & Invest, the country’s foreign trade and investment agency, said China has been Germany’s most important trading partner for six consecutive years, and the overall bilateral trade volume had reached a new high in 2021.

China is one of the most important growth markets in the world and is also an important partner for Germany in its efforts to tackle global challenges, such as the pandemic and climate change.

Horst Loechel, a professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, called EU-China trade a win-win for both sides, saying he expects the growth trend to continue. .

In March 2021, a historic agreement between the EU and China to protect over 500 Chinese and European geographical indications entered into force. Among the first beneficiaries of the agreement were wines produced on the Greek island of Samos.

“China is an extremely important market or a potentially important market for Greek wines. I think as wine becomes more and more popular in China, in just a few years Greek wines will conquer the market there,” said Konstantinos Lazarakis, Greek Prime Minister. Master of Wine.

The past year has also seen a growing number of freight trains, also known as “steel camel fleets”, transporting goods between China and Europe. In 2021, the number of round-trip freight train trips reached 15,000, carrying 1.46 million twenty-foot equivalent units, up 22% and 19% year-on-year, respectively.

This rail link is also very popular with producers and importers in Spain. Gonzalo Jerez, director of Spanish logistics company Trans-Glory, said it played a key role as a sustainable and reliable mode of logistics during the worst days of the pandemic.

In Serbia, the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the China-built Hungary-Serbia railway opened in March. The flagship railway project has often been described as a symbol of cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European region.

China and Europe are major markets with a shared strategic interest in promoting development through green and digital partnerships. Both parties are also in line with their ambitious commitments to achieve a green and digital transformation, reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

China’s Shanghai Electric Power Company is bringing its expertise in wind, solar and hydrogen energy to Malta’s island of Gozo, which it aims to turn into the EU’s first carbon-neutral island. The company is also involved in other green energy projects in Malta and Montenegro.

Loechel said it was vital for Europe and China to cooperate on green energy. The EU unveiled its European Green Deal in 2019, and the bloc aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. China has pledged to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by carbon by 2060. This “cooperative model” in the field of green energy is very important. for the whole world, said Loechel.

China and Europe have made continuous efforts to strengthen their partnership in digital trade and finance. Bilateral e-commerce cooperation is booming, and the two sides are jointly developing cross-border e-commerce industrial parks.

Several Chinese companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, are actively involved in the expansion of the European 5G network. Bank of China and China Construction Bank are also set to launch their digital currency electronic payment systems and fintech labs.

Loechel added that both Europe and China are committed to addressing security issues related to digitalization and have developed regulations and policies to protect consumers’ private data.