The EU and China together are on a ‘green growth’ mission, one that supports environmental protection and sustainable prosperity by promoting regulatory harmony. Strengthening EU-China cooperation will lead to more international business opportunities for EU companies, particularly SMEs, active in the ‘environmental’ sectors. The end result: helping the global economy and slowing global warming.
The global market for green goods and services is currently estimated at around €1 trillion per year – and is expected to double by 2020. This huge economic potential, coupled with the moral imperative to fight manmade climate change, was the inspiration behind a visit by European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik to China in July 2013.
An important aspect of the visit was intensifying EU-China cooperation to improve industrial energy efficiency, decrease greenhouse gases and increase market share for environmentally friendly products and services.
This is a continuation of collaboration that began in 2010, when a specific working group was established with the Chinese Ministry of Industry. The group’s three main areas of emphasis are energy efficiency actions in industry, product policy (notably eco-design) and sustainable industrial policy.
Helping EU companies, especially SMEs, to operate in China
Vice-President Tajani and Commissioner Potočnik were accompanied by a delegation of 59 companies and business federations, 22 of which were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 17 different EU Member States. The combined turnover of the companies joining this mission, which employed a total of 740 000 people, was €233 billion. With this delegation on hand, the EU and China agreed to reinforce the already fruitful cooperation between Chinese authorities and the European Commission through existing regulatory dialogues, which promote mutual understanding in industrial and SME policy.
To that end, both sides will intensify cooperation in the areas of product risk assessment and management, market surveillance and standards convergence, and will enhance the China-Europe Standardisation Information Platform (CESIP). This platform gives businesses information about standards applicable to highly-regulated products and, as a result, helps SMEs to internationalise.
Another key topic for EU-China business relations is the protection of intellectual property rights. During his meeting with the Minister for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Zhi Shuping, Tajani talked about the fight against counterfeiting and promoted the EU’s new proposal to improve market surveillance and traceability, particularly in the area of green technology.
Promoting bilateral business contacts
A matchmaking event was held to facilitate collaboration between local entrepreneurs and companies operating in the air quality, water, waste, energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies sectors. More than 350 Business-to-Business meetings took place, all focusing on the theme of ‘green growth’. Attended by 102 Chinese companies from all over the country, the event was made possible thanks to the support of the EU SME Centre and the Enterprise Europe Network. The world's largest business support network, the Enterprise Europe Network has recently expanded its coverage and now has five consortia throughout China, providing free basic services to SME clients to support their expansion and improve their competitive position in China and other emerging markets.
During a roundtable on green business opportunities, co-hosted with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, five partnership agreements in the field of bioenergy between EU and Chinese companies were signed.
Enhanced cooperation on sustainable tourism, which will be beneficial for both sides, was also agreed upon. Through the simplification of visa processes, major events such as the Expo2015 in Milan – the theme of which is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ – will be more accessible to tourists from China, which has the fastest-growing tourist population in the world.
‘Green growth is high on the political agendas of the EU and China – both are interested in achieving sustainable growth while maintaining and improving the state of their respective environments. This is a win-win situation for businesses on both sides and for the climate.’ – Vice-President Tajani, Commissioner for enterprise and industry policy
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