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© Foto: Jana Eisberg, Senatskanzlei Hamburg

"The EU and China need each other more than ever"

China’s premier Li Keqiang at the Hamburg Summit. Trade agreements signed. Hamburg to host CHINA TIME in November.

China’s premier Li Keqiang, the European Parliament`s president Martin Schulz and Germany’s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier held keynote speeches to conclude the sixth “Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe” in Hamburg/ Germany. With more than 600 participants from business and politics, the Hamburg Summit is the key economic conference on Sino-European affairs. During the event, leading politicians from both world regions emphasised that Europe and China need each other more than ever.

Collaboration is vital

The sixth “Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe” was held on 10 and 11 October 2014 at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. During the closing lunch on Saturday attended by China’s premier Li Keqiang and four of his ministers, Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, underlined the importance of economic collaboration between Europe and China: “China’s global influence has grown tremendously, and so has the potential for an extensive partnership with the European Union. The financial crisis has demonstrated how much we depend on each other and how important it is to collaborate internationally. Today, the EU and China need each other more than ever.”

Essential Sino-German platform

Germany’s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier acknowledged the conference by stating: “The Hamburg Summit is an essential German-Chinese platform for leading figures from business, politics and science. This is where thoughts are being developed and where contacts are being established, with the aim of making German-Chinese relations even more fruitful.” Mr Steinmeier further said that Hamburg, like hardly any other place, represents China’s relations with Germany and Europe, adding that this is also consistent with the German-Chinese initiative “Jointly shaping innovations”, a framework for actions that not only revolves around research, technology and business but also focusses on promoting a modern educational and social system.

Growth in China to continue

Fritz Horst Melsheimer, president of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and host of the Hamburg Summit, looked back on the event with satisfaction: “Following numerous talks and discussions at our conference, I am confident that China will address the fundamental and painful economic reforms that were decided on in 2013, and that China will emerge from these reforms stronger than before.” Mr Melsheimer also stressed the importance of promoting enhanced mutual understanding and a reliable trust relationship at all levels: “China and Europe have much in common in the economic sphere. This is why China and Europe should jointly promote the advancement of a global economic and trade regime that is open, multilateral and rule-based.” President Melsheimer thanked the Chinese premier for his attendance, considering this visit as a special tribute to the Hamburg Summit, which took place for the sixth time this year and which recorded record numbers with more than 600 participating stakeholders.

Representing the Chinese government, Mr Li Keqiang was the guest of honour and also one of the main speakers of the conference. Accompanied by four of his ministers, China’s premier arrived in Hamburg following the German-Chinese government consultations in Berlin.

Change is never easy

In his speech on the previous day, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht explicitly welcomed the Chinese government’s reform efforts: “We applaud the government’s intention to move to a more open regime for foreign direct investment, including in the services sectors.” He also praised China’s new commitment to the idea of the market playing a decisive role in China’s economy. Mr De Gucht further stated that making real change is never easy. He assured Europe’s support to China and its people along this way. With regard to Europe, De Gucht further called for advocating open markets, contrary to the current populist movements, as only international trade and investment can get Europe’s economy moving again.

Hamburg – hub of Chinese trade

On the margins of the summit, China’s premier Li Keqiang also met with Hamburg’s mayor Olaf Scholz. “Hamburg has for centuries played a vital role in trade between China and the European continent. In recent decades, we have been able to foster these traditional links and further strengthen our expertise on China. These close links are reflected in the wide range of joint activities: business collaborations, academic cooperation projects, exchange programmes, our twinning with Shanghai, and diverse cultural activities are creating an intense and lively exchange in all areas,” stated Mr Scholz in highlighting the relationship between Hamburg and China during his meeting with China’s premier. “Given its experience with China, Hamburg is thus the ideal place for dialogue on the prospects for economic relations between the EU and China,” Mr Scholz added.

Hamburg’s bestselling A320 ordered by China

Parallel to the summit, China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) and Airbus signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) on 10 October for the purchase of a total of 70 Airbus A320 Family aircraft, reflecting the strong demand from Chinese carriers for the leading Airbus single-aisle Family for domestic, low cost, regional and international operations. The GTA was signed by Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO and Li Hai, President of CAS. The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling single aisle product line with more than 11,000 orders to date and over 6,200 aircraft delivered. The aircraft is manufactured in Hamburg. him

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Hamburg – China's trading centre

Hamburg is China’s gateway to Europe. Today, more than 50 percent of German foreign trade with the People’s Republic of China is handled in the port of Hamburg. In 2013, the China-related volume of container transport amounted to 2.7 million container units (TEU), making China the port of Hamburg’s number one foreign trade partner. Over 500 Chinese companies have offices in Hamburg and more than 600 Hamburg businesses are engaged in trade with China, managing their China-related imports and exports from Hamburg. Moreover, Hamburg and its partner city, the Chinese trading city of Shanghai, maintain close economic, cultural and social ties.

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