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Ambassador Zhang Ming Attends the Video Conference of the College of Europe

On November 17, 2020, Ambassador Zhang Ming, Head of the Chinese Mission to the European Union, was invited to an online seminar on transatlantic trade held by the College of Europe. Ambassador Zhang gave a speech on the importance of openness, cooperation and keeping up with the times. There were more than 50 participants joining online, including Ambassador of the EU to the WTO, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the EU and Ambassador of Canada to the EU.

Ambassador Zhang said that the COVID-19 is pushing globalization to another crossroad. Free trade and multilateral cooperation are further called into question. Unilateralism and protectionism are having their way. There is a growing tendency to artificially bring manufacturing back home and localize production. All this has cast a shadow over the future of global economy and trade. Yet we should not lose direction in the mist or lose faith in free trade and multilateralism. Humanity has always been able to forge ahead despite risks, disasters and headwinds. To jointly shape the future of global economy and trade, we must stick to openness and cooperation, and keep pace with the times.

Ambassador Zhang said that openness and cooperation have optimized resource allocation, enhanced efficiency and improved people's well-being. This trend cannot be stopped, and conforms to the fundamental norms for market economy. Under the current circumstances, it is all the more important for China and the EU to turn consensus on openness and cooperation into actions. Since the start of this year, the negotiation on a China-EU investment agreement has notably accelerated, with major progress made in terms of the text and the negative list. It is a shared commitment to concluding the agreement at an early date. Both sides are expected to be pragmatic and flexible and strive to reach a high-level and balanced agreement within this year.

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that to keep up with the times, we need to promote WTO reform as necessary to enhance its authority and efficacy. We need to pinpoint the problems and seek remedies accordingly. The root cause for the current WTO crisis is unilateralism and protectionism which endangers the rules-based multilateral trading system. Reform is not about putting specific countries into straitjackets, but about promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. Development remains the core mandate. New rules need to be written in a balanced way. In updating the multilateral trading system, China and the EU are partners. The two sides have established a joint working group on WTO reform, and have worked together to bring the MPIA into fruition. This year, the two sides launched the high-level dialogue on environment and climate and the high-level digital dialogue, which could serve as platforms for more cooperation and exchanges in the relevant areas, including efforts on the formulation and improvement of multilateral rules.

Ambassador Zhang said that China will foster a new development paradigm with the domestic circulation as the mainstay and the domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. We aim to increase the resilience of the domestic economic cycle which could lend more impetus to the international cycle. The dual circulation is not a single circulation behind closed doors. We will expand opening-up at a higher level, broaden market access for foreign-invested enterprises, and foster a world-class and market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework. We want to achieve mutual benefit between China and its global partners.

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