Interview: European companies benefit from fast recovery of Chinese market: German expert

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by Xinhua writer Zhu Sheng

BERLIN, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — More European companies are benefiting from the fast recovery of the Chinese market and China has been playing its part in supporting the European Union (EU) economy to get back on track, a German expert told Xinhua on Wednesday.

“China can play a quite important role. European companies, especially from the automotive industry and luxury industry, benefit currently from the recovery of the Chinese market,” said Jost Wuebbeke, director at Sinolytics, a Berlin-based consultancy specializing in China and with a particular focus on China’s technological and digital transformation.

“Very important to the economic recovery is that EU countries get the pandemic under control and push forward the vaccination campaign. The first thing is to get our homework done,” Wuebbeke said.

Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, said on Monday that China became the EU’s main trading partner last year, overtaking the United States.

The bloc’s imports from China in 2020 grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year to 383.5 billion euros (462 billion U.S. dollars), and exports increased by 2.2 percent to 202.5 billion euros. Meanwhile, the EU’s trade with the U.S. saw a substantial decline both ways, according to Eurostat.

“The recent development is not totally surprising,” he said, adding that China has already been the EU’s second largest trade partner in 2019 with a share of close to 14 percent, while the U.S. had about 15 percent in 2019.

As China’s economy recovers faster from the impact of the pandemic, exports and imports between the EU and China grew despite headwinds in 2020. In particular, the EU’s imports from China grew strongly, while the growth of exports to China was a bit more moderate, Wuebbeke noted.

According to the expert, there have been two trends for the continuous development of trade volume.

On one hand, China’s recovery in the second quarter of 2020 created a stable demand for European products, especially in automotive and luxury goods. On the other hand, the extended lockdown in Europe created a huge demand for electronics, entertainment and health care goods, many of which are manufactured in China, he said.

China remains an important destination for German exporters of machinery, vehicles and auto parts, electronic devices and chemicals. Wuebbeke believed that the growth potential of the Chinese market is “still enormous.”

China has been Germany’s biggest import country since 2015. In 2020, China was Germany’s biggest import country and second-biggest export country, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) announced earlier this month.

“Likewise, Europe is a big market for products Made in China. With the rise of cross-border e-commerce, we will also see a growing presence of Alibaba and JD.com in Europe,” Wuebbeke said. (1 euro = 1.2 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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