This episode covers German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China; the 5th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, with comments from European Chamber Vice President and Shanghai Chapter Chair Bettina Schoen-Behanzin; China’s October foreign trade data; and China’s National Development and Reform Commission’s latest policy incentives for private investment. News from the Chamber includes high-level meetings with the new Ambassador-designate to the European Union and the Communist Party of China Central Committee’s International Department.
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing:
Foreign trade datRUI:
NDRC notice on incentives for private enterprises (in Chinese):
European Chamber advocacy actions:
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RUI: Hello and welcome to China Shortcuts,
MARIANN: the European Chamber’s weekly catchup about the Chinese business landscape.
RUI: German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during his first visit to Beijing since he became chancellor last year.
MARIANN: Scholz was accompanied by the heads of some of Germany’s largest enterprises, which sent a strong message at a time when many voices in Germany are calling for the country to reduce its reliance on China. During his talks with President Xi, the German Chancellor highlighted that as China is moving towards economic self-reliance, its market is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate for German companies. He identified market access and the protection of intellectual property as key areas where improvements are necessary. With EU-China tensions high, it is imperative that leaders from both sides have the chance to meet face-to-face and engage in frank discussions about their relationship.
RUI: The 5th China international Import Expo opened in Shanghai on the 5th of November, along with the Hongqiao International Economic Forum. The two annual events kicked off in 2018 with the purpose of promoting imported goods and services in China and showcasing the country’s investment potential, as well as its willingness to open up its market.
MARIANN: At this year’s opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of economic globalisation and said China would continue to pursue high-level opening up. However, while the expo’s goal is to encourage foreign businesses to increase their investments in China, Beijing’s adherence to its strict Covid-policy has created serious obstacles for foreign traders to participate in the expo. Last year, the overall deal value dropped for the first time since the exhibition was inaugurated.
RUI: Commenting on this year’s expo is Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, Vice President of the European Chamber and Chair of the Chamber’s Shanghai Chapter:
BETTINA SCHOEN-BEHANZIN: Day Four of the CIIE. To my big surprise the fair is quite crowded, especially in the automotive hall – for sure, mainly representatives from media and government. For customers it’s very difficult to attend the show, because visitors need to have three vaccinations and even then, the application process for the entry pass is very-very complicated. So, it’s mainly for branding.
RUI: China’s October foreign trade data showed that exports and imports both declined amid global and domestic economic headwinds.
MARIANN: Exports shrank for the first time since May 2020, with the index falling 0.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. Imports declined at the fastest pace since August 2020, dropping 0.7 per cent year on year in October. The slowdown in foreign trade came as soaring energy prices dampened global demand for Chinese goods, and pandemic-related restrictions have weakened domestic demand.
RUI: China’s National Development and Reform Commission said it would offer more policy support to boost private investment.
MARIANN: In a notice published on its website, the commission pledged it would provide incentives for private companies to invest in 102 major projects in areas including transportation and infrastructure, digitalisation and green energy development. However, at the same time, state-owned enterprises will also be further incentivised to increase their investments into the private sector.
RUI: The European Chamber maintains regular contact with stakeholders both in China and the EU to advocate for improved market conditions for all businesses in China.
MARIANN: In early November, President Joerg Wuttke, along with vice presidents Bruno Weill and Jens Eskelund, met Director Peng Yong of the China Economic Cooperation Centre of the CPC Central Committee’s International Department. The two sides had an open and frank exchange on current issues, including bilateral relations, trade and investment, COVID-19 containment measures and the development of European businesses in China.
RUI: President Wuttke also met His Excellency, Mr Fu Cong, Ambassador-designate to the EU, in Beijing and presented the key points raised in the Chamber’s recently published, annual position paper.
MARIANN: Thanks for listening. Tune in again next week.
RUI: In the meantime, find useful links in the episode notes.