|Markus Eerder, EU ambassador to China, provides an update on the latest development in the EU and EU-China relations, Jan. 17, 2014. (People's Daily Online/Du Mingming)|
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At a press conference held in Beijing Friday, outgoing EU ambassador to China Markus Ederer characterized EU-China cooperation during his tenure as fruitful, and envisioned positive prospects for future bilateral relations.
Ederer's summary concluded that EU-China relations have deepened and strengthened strategically since he became EU ambassador to China. Trade remains the most important element in the bilateral relationship, where the last three years have seen China and the EU creating new platforms for cooperation in areas such as strategic urbanization, water, and the Internet. The two parties have also established a defense and security dialogue.
"The EU China relationship has matured," Ederer remarked, citing the example of the successful resolution of the photovoltaic trade dispute - so far the most serious EU-China trade conflict yet to arise - which risked spiraling out of control last year. "I'm proud we've been able to solve the problem this way. It sets a good role model for resolving future trade disputes," he said.
As for future developments in EU-China relations, Ederer sees great opportunities for cooperation in the investment sector. Currently, although the EU is China's biggest trading partner and China provides the second largest trading market for the EU, only 2 percent of the EU's ODI goes to China, and only 3 percent of China's to the EU. "Considering the scope of cooperation in trading between the EU and China, you see a big gap and therefore great potential in the investment relationship," he said. According to the ambassador, negotiations for an EU-China investment agreement begin this week, and huge potential for cooperation will be unleashed if everything goes smoothly.
Ederer stressed the EU's willingness to strengthen cooperation with China outside the economic sphere, such as in the area of sustainable urbanization and in resolving international flashpoints. He also expressed his hope for more people-to-people contacts between the two sides.
"Overall, I see very good momentum in EU China relations and I look with confidence to the relationship flourishing in the future," he concluded.
Mr. Ederer will serve as Germany's State Secretary after he leaves the ambassadorial position.