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EU-Asia relations: so much to learn from each other

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Rating: 4.3/5 (8 votes cast)

I’ve just returned from a trip to China, Korea and Singapore, the main focus of which was to maintain the positive momentum in EU-China relations that has been driven by a number of successful summits with our Asian partners. Indeed, over the last few months, a succession of top-level delegations – Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers – from these countries have visited the EU to discuss trade and economic cooperation and sharing know-how. 

Why are these discussions important? Well, primarily because EU-China trade is worth more than €430 billion! The EU is China’s number one trading partner and it looks increasingly likely that China will soon also become the leading market for EU trade as well (it is currently in second place, behind the US). 

But it’s important to note, I think, that this is anything but a one-way street; China wants EU technology and know-how just as much if not more than the EU wants Chinese goods, manufacturing skills and access to consumers. For example, during my talks in China, it was clear that the European concept of ‘smart cities’ and the development of ‘green’ technologies are both particularly important to China, not surprisingly given the continuing demographic growth there. Indeed, China is planning to build dozens of new ‘smart’ cities, which will be home to millions of Chinese people, and hopes to use European technology and know-how to avoid the congestion and pollution problems that plague many of China’s largest cities, including Beijing. 

Trade relations also dominated my talks in Korea, which signed a Free Trade Agreement with the EU in September 2010, leading to a 20% increase in bilateral trade over the last nine months since it came into force on 1 July 2011, and this despite the global economic crisis. I am convinced after my discussions that we are moving ever closer to a similar agreement with Singapore: the EU would like to conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement by the end of this year. Trade between the EU and Korea and Singapore combined is more than €60 billion, and the EU is both Korea and Singapore’s most important trading partner. There is much to gain for both sides from liberalising trade relations, not least in the area of ICT, an increasingly important driver of the economies of both Asian countries. On the back of this, both countries have also seen a steady increase in the importance of e-government – indeed, Korea is the world leader in this regard. And with seven of the top ten countries for e-government coming from Europe, there is certainly much that we can teach each other in this important area of administration.
Education is also a priority for both countries. Up to 80% of the population of Republic of Korea is interested to get a university degree, and having been invited to give a speech and take part in a discussion at prestigious Yonsei University, I can certainly confirm that students’ interest in European affairs is considerable! Singapore, meanwhile, has a particular focus on R&D, and I was happy to see a high level of interest in and appreciation for European scientific research, as well as in Europe’s longer term ambitions in this area. 

Increasing levels of trade and scientific cooperation underline the growing interdependence of Asian countries and the EU. From my visit, it’s clear to me to the economic and commercial dynamism of the Asian economies is going to be one of the key external sources of economic growth in the EU. It’s not surprising, then, that the first question I was asked at the start of every meeting there was the same – what are we doing about the euro and the future of the euro area. 

What struck me most was that the success of the euro is not just an issue for Europe – the economic dynamism of Asia, and virtually of the whole world, depends in no small part on the EU’s prosperity. The EU is the largest economy in the world and as such it carries an immense global responsibility for overall economic development, as recent events have clearly shown. That’s why my message was clear: the EU has put the necessary structures in place to overcome the current economic crisis and emerge even stronger from the other side, measures that will reinforce its position as the world’s most important commercial and economic powerhouse.

EU-Asia relations: so much to learn from each other, 4.3 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

2 Responses to “EU-Asia relations: so much to learn from each other”

  1. johnpeters says:

    Commissioner Sefcovic :

    The best to you all in increasing the  trade between the EU and Asia, specially with China , we know they want our best technology , so trade  must be even and honest. A few weeks ago the Chinese Government introduced a new 15 year Aviation Industry Plan with 250 billion dollars, so they will create an Aviation -Space Industry able to compete with Airbus and Boeing, etc., let’s make sure  the new markets and consumers will create enough demand for all this manufacturing, we want all workers to be able to have a good job, good education , good health and good pensions.

    About Health,  Walt Disney Co. just announced that they will stop selling advertisement space and time to junk foods and sugary sodas, etc., this is great news , and this good story is due to the hard work of Michelle Obama, who is working non-stop to provide healthy choices to kids, great news !

    The news that there is a  proposal to build an advanced rail network between Europa,Russia and China is a very smart idea, I hope these partners and private Industry get going and build it with Wi-Fi n , with new smart antennas and cognitive radios  , with Solar and Wind Energy, with fuel-cells,  hybrid-electric plug-in motors , with Healthy Food choices for consumers and farmers, with a smart grid next to it and with other smart solutions, we need these partnerships right now !  

    These and other projects should be “action time ” at the G-20 meeting this month, we need a new Economic , Industrial and Financial Architecture, the actual one is not smart enough to support work and growth for 7 billion people, new formulas are a must. 

    On fracking , hydraulic fracturing, new reports from drills around the world show that in some cases mistakes are made underground and local water tables get contaminated with benzene, toluene, diesel, etc., and some Gas and Oil Companies, since the exact chemicals involved in the explosions and pressure fracking are not reported and still secret , they refuse responsibility, this must be addressed and corrected , Insurance and obligations must be clear and honest !

    As you know, the UN meeting in Qatar this next December to deal with the ITU  – Internet issues is getting a lot of attention, some countries and special groups are trying to propose to change the basic TCP/IP , Apache and HTML5, etc.,  of the Internet and the Web to control access, content and working tools, this is a very bad idea, they want to turn the web into a private proprietary network, like a private cable company and not only to charge for access but to control who gets online and for what, and this engineering  manipulation is a disaster for all, the Internet as it is has been great for the Economy and the World , turning it into a private ” cable-phone-content-television-media-censure”  company is a formula for disaster and abuse, and here one of the fathers of the Internet , Vint Cerf – and many others – has some very clear ideas, we need to keep the Internet Open and Free from political manipulations, what will the EU say about this vital issue ?  

    Let’s remember that the Internet was invented in the USA and fully financed by USA Taxpayers and the World Wide Web was invented in the EU and fully financed by EU Taxpayers.

    As many in the Financial Markets are asking, why not give the EU Taxpayers and Consumers full information of all the Currency Traders, Hedge Funds,  Bond Dealers, Money Managers, Private Equity and Investment Bankers, etc.,  that are “shorting ” ( bets against ) the Euro and EU Debt , Bonds, Banks, etc., ?
     Why not tell the EU Citizens who is trying to crash their EU Economies and profit from it ?  We know that these speculators hope to cash-in their “shorts” and with these profits and the EU markets in very negative territory , buy vital EU companies for very little money, the ” double trick ” as some call it, so why not inform all the EU Taxpayers about these moves ?
    Commissioner, very difficult issues ahead, we all hope the EU gets its Fiscal Union in order very soon, gets its new  Bank deposits insurance continent wide going as soon as possible, perhaps insuring all deposits to 500.000 Euros all across the EU , gets its new bank for troubled assets going, so that they can sell these assets very slowly over the next 50 years, without pressure of the speculators, etc., etc. and gets a plan for Jobs and Growth : WHICH PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IS THE EU GOING TO EXPORT THE NEXT 50 YEARS TO THE WORLD ?  Food crops are going to be needed to feed these 7 billion  people, why not a crash program to grow tons of food for exports ? all together ? every 1 billion euros of foods exports supports 10.000 workers, why not make organic and natural farming in scale something fun for the unemployed youth to do ? 

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    • pokredyt says:

      Wages will eventually rise in China as the Chinese become more westernized and demand a better standard of living. We will see what happens when they move away from a export economy. Hopefully it will bring jobs back here.

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