ROME, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Trade between China and European countries saw robust growth in 2021, exhibiting vigor and resilience in their economic cooperation in spite of a weak global recovery hobbled by the unabated spread of COVID-19.
Official data showed China's trade with the European Union (EU) in 2021 amounted to 828.1 billion U.S. dollars, up 27.5 percent year on year. China remained the EU's largest trading partner, while the EU was China's second largest trading partner.
SOURCE OF VIGOR
As the world is still going through a hard time amid the pandemic, China has been making persistent anti-virus efforts at home while sustaining economic recovery, boosting the growth of China-Europe trade.
Projections show that the total trade volume between China and Germany is likely to reach a new record, thus making China Germany's largest trading partner for the sixth year in a row, said Juergen Friedrich, chairman and chief executive at Germany Trade & Invest, in a written interview with Xinhua.
Supply bottlenecks and the Omicron variant wave have slowed down economic recovery, said a note published by the Liechtenstein-based VP Bank Group on its website in January.
Thomas Gitzel, chief economist at VP Bank, said that given the recovery of the supply chains and logistics between Germany and its major trading partners, especially China, he is optimistic about the growth prospect of the German foreign trade.
John McLean, chair of the Institute of Directors for the City of London, said China is Britain's third largest trading partner and up to the second quarter of 2021, it accounted for 7.6 percent of Britain's overall trade, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent.
Italy's trade with China grew 34.1 percent in 2021, data from China Customs showed. The Chinese economy "has kept growing in the last years despite the pandemic," said Massimiliano Tremiterra, head of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) office in southern China's Guangzhou City.
"Therefore, the Chinese market is considered a market of primary importance for a country like Italy with a strong export orientation," he said.
ANCHOR OF STABILITY
As the world's largest trading nation, China has served as an anchor in a turbulent global market disrupted by supply chain bottlenecks and inflation.
The China-Europe freight train service, as an important pillar for the Belt and Road Initiative, has helped stabilize global supply chains and offer a lifeline for the distribution of anti-virus materials.
By the end of October, the China-Europe freight trains plying along 73 routes reached 175 cities in 23 European countries with more than 50,000 kinds of goods.
The number of China-Europe freight train trips rose by 22 percent year on year to hit 15,000 in 2021, according to China State Railway Group Co., Ltd.
March 1 this year will mark one year since the China-EU agreement on geographical indications (GI) came into force, a treaty inked to improve bilateral trade of agri-food products and strengthen China-EU economic ties.
Wolfgang Burtscher, the European Commission's directorate-general for agriculture and rural development, noted that both the EU and China are rich in GI resources, and the implementation of the agreement has great significance for both sides to strengthen GI protection, improve market recognition of related products and create greater added value.
Co-chairing virtually a meeting of the China-EU Joint Committee on Geographical Indications in January, Burtscher said the EU is ready to work with China to expand bilateral trade in agricultural products, benefit enterprises and consumers on both sides and boost the rural economy.
CATALYST FOR NEW DEVELOPMENT
China and Europe have great potential for cooperation in such areas as clean energy, digital economy and service industry, as well as in combating global challenges.
China remains one of the world's most important markets that see growth, and "an important partner for overcoming global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change," Friedrich said.
Noting German companies import more goods from no other country than from China, Friedrich added that German companies in China "continue to express investment intentions, including the localization of production and research and development" in China.
McLean said the growing trade in manufacturing, telecoms, and pharmaceutical products has "strengthened the trade bridge" between Britain and China, and has "acted as a catalyst for both countries to develop closer collaboration on the key global issues of health, climate, aging and biodiversity."
Italian fashion, design, and lifestyle sectors as well as producers of medical supplies and machinery components will particularly benefit from trade between Italy and China, said Italy-China Foundation President Mario Boselli.
Looking into the future, Boselli wrote in a report that innovation and increasing digitalization are going to be the main drivers of China's economic growth in the next years, and that Italian companies will have to make adjustments in order to stay competitive. ■