Premier Li Keqiang Defies Pessimism, Establishes Business Group In EU

China-EU summit
European Council President Donald Tusk pats Chinese Premier Li Keqiang next to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a joint news conference after the EU-China summit in Brussels, Belgium April 9, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Following the end of Premier Li Keqiang's eurozone visit and the closing of the annual China-EU summit, analysts noted that the Asian country bagged a diplomatic win. For many economists, it was a good sign that the European Union (EU) leaders did not drop negative statements after the meeting - as was previously predicted by some spectators.

Despite negative forecasts about the China-EU summit, Li departed from Brussels without hearing statements that China's trade practices are "unfair." The summit ended on a positive note for both sides, the South China Morning Post reported.

The Chinese and European delegations agreed that cooperation on reforms revolving around industrial subsidies should be implemented. China also pledged to open wider doors for EU firms to penetrate the massive Chinese market.

Another progressive part of the meeting was the agreement between China and the EU to adjust terms in the Belt and Road Initiative and the Connecting Europe and Asia initiative. The delegations vowed to develop links that will benefit both programs.

The most interesting aspect of the China-EU summit was the drafting of a joint statement. Multiple outlets previously predicted that eurozone leaders may end the meeting without a statement. However, Li made sure to extend Beijing's goodwill, resulting in the much-debated joint statement.

According to Deutsche Welle, the seven-page joint declaration saw Beijing and Brussels committing to "broader" and "non-discriminatory" access to markets. Economists said China's softer stance on this matter helped in ensuring that the summit will end positively.

"Not only will this be conducive to China's reform and opening up, but also Europe's unity and prosperity," Li said of the statement. He also vowed to help Beijing implement its promised reforms that will ensure the signing of an investment deal with the EU.

"This is a breakthrough. For the first time China has agreed to engage with Europe on this key WTO reform," European Council President Donald Tusk said after Premier Li signed the joint declaration.

Li also said that the recently established China Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (EU) is expected to help improve business relations and activities between Chinese and European entrepreneurs in the eurozone.

According to CGTN, Li said during Monday's unveiling of the new business group that it was established to cater to the needs of both Chinese and European businesses. He said the organization is expected to promote exchange between businessmen from the two countries.

The flagship organization is also expected to encourage investments among business people with consideration of bilateral benefits. "The China Chamber of Commerce to the EU should listen attentively to both Chinese and European companies, as well as the voices from its counterpart, the European Union Chamber of Commerce," Li said.

Relations between China and the European Union have experienced headwinds over the past years. Analysts believe that the Chinese organization's establishment could help strengthen relations between the two regions.

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