Weinian Hu is a consultant at Hill + Knowlton Strategies in Brussels.
"It was a court of argument and counter-argument between some of the leading Chinese businesses in Europe and their European counterparts in China in the 2nd session of the 8th EU-China Business Summit, which took place on 20 September 2012 in Brussels.
The session, entitled 'Strengthening Investment Opportunities for Growth', launched again an urgent appeal to governments to address barriers to market access that investors from both sides are confronted.
Indeed, the investment relations between the two global trading giants are not always challenge-proof. For the question of equal access alone, in its European Business in China Position Paper (2012/2013), the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China listed market access, procurement, treatment under the law, financing and subsidies and technology innovation as the areas that European businesses are being discriminated against in China.
As to the Chinese investors in Europe, discontent centred on increasing protectionism ranging from sourcing problems to work permit application difficulties was voiced at the Business Summit, where China’s Premier Wen Jiabao called upon Europe to provide a transparent environment in order for Chinese investors to help Europe to stimulate jobs and growth.
Look at itself in the mirror, to succeed the European market, Chinese investors should go European when in Europe. They should use the EU legal instruments to exercise and protect their rights, specifically when facing barriers to market access and threat of trade defence measures. Chinese investors should also undertake the same practice, such as campaigning and lobbying, just like the Europeans do, to address issues which would directly affect their investment interest at high political levels in the EU.
The EU bloc is certainly attractive to Chinese investors with a market of 500 million consumers, a highly educated labour force and the most innovative economy in the world. As to the EU, Chinese companies have abundant capital and can invest in the EU; and EU companies can benefit from China's huge domestic market at the same time. It is predicted that China will make between €800 billion and €1.6 trillion worth of new investments abroad between 2010 and 2020. This is a massive opportunity for Europe.
The global economy remains sluggish at the present time. While the EU is still much troubled by its euro crisis, China, too, is under tremendous pressure to transform its export-led economy and rebalance it towards innovation and modernisation. As crisis itself presents opportunities, investors from both Europe and China should seize the moment. For Chinese investors, “Go European” will be the first step to accomplish their endeavours in the European market."