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China last year overtook the U.S. as the EU’s biggest trading partner, with China-EU trade volume reaching 586 billion euros ($711 billion), compared to 555 billion euros between the U.S. and the EU, the bloc’s statistics agency Eurostat said on Monday.
The agency said EU exports to China rose by 2.2 percent to 202.5 billion euros, while imports from China increased by 5.6 percent to 383.5 billion euros.
However, the EU’s trade with the U.S. dropped significantly in 2020, with a 13.2 percent dip in imports and 8.2 percent in exports, Eurostat said.
China’s resilience came after it suffered from the coronavirus pandemic during the first quarter, then vigorously recovering with consumption exceeding that of a year ago by the end of 2020.
People wait in line at a wine stall as a mini Christmas market opens in Essen, Germany, December 3, 2020. /VCG
This helped drive sales of European products, particularly in the automobile and luxury goods sectors, while China’s exports to Europe benefited from strong demand for medical equipment and electronics.
The two sides also signed a landmark agreement in September for a mutual protection of geographical indications that gives quality farm producers greater access to enter into each other’s market.
The dethroning of the U.S. comes as the EU and China are seeking to ratify a long-negotiated investment deal that would give European companies better access to the vast Chinese market.
The deal adopts a pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list regarding market access, the first time that China has promised to introduce negative lists for all industries.
Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, told CGTN that the deal will open up markets much wider both in Europe and China to each other’s investors.
“Both sides can make good use of China-Europe freight trains, which played a major role in combating the pandemic. China can also increase its imports from the EU, while the EU can reduce export restrictions on China,” Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told CGTN.
A freight train joins a China-Europe freight train service when departing the city of Shangqiu in central China’s Henan Province, December 22, 2020. /VCG
In addition to the COVID-19 crisis, transatlantic trade has been impaired by a series of tit-for-tat feuds that have resulted with tariffs on steel, digital technology, Airbus and products such as French champagne or Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Britain, which is now no longer part of the EU, was the third-largest trading partner for the bloc, behind China and the U.S., the agency said.
Eurostat said trade with the UK plummeted in 2020 when Britain officially left the bloc, though it was in a transition period to blunt the effects of Brexit until December 31.
EU exports to the UK fell by 13.2 percent, while imports from across the channel dropped by 13.9 percent, Eurostat said.
Credit: CGTN (With input from AFP). Publication: CGTN. Source Link: China overtakes U.S. as EU’s biggest trading partner