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Li Keqiang Attends High-level Virtual Dialogue with European Business Leaders

On the afternoon of February 5, 2021, Premier Li Keqiang attended a high-level virtual dialogue with European business leaders at Ziguang Pavilion of Zhongnanhai leadership compound. Li Keqiang gave an overview of the current situation of the Chinese economy and its development outlook, and exchanged in-depth views with representatives of entrepreneurs present at the meeting on China's market and consumption, China-Europe trade and investment cooperation, China's business environment, COVID-19 response, climate change and other issues of mutual interest. Former European Trade commissioner and British First Secretary of State Peter Mandelson presided over the dialogue. Business leaders representing close to 30 well-known European companies including Volvo, Airbus, JCDecaux, AstraZeneca, L'Oreal, BASF, and SAP attended the meeting.

On China's economic situation, Li Keqiang said that facing the impacts of COVID-19 and a deep global recession, the Chinese government maintained its resolve and adopted effective macro policies in a timely and decisive manner, which produced good results at a reasonable cost. The Chinese economy achieved steady recovery at a relatively fast pace, registering a year-round growth of 2.3 percent. On the one hand, to meet the needs of struggling market entities, we, both the central and local governments, adopted targeted relief policies to help companies out of difficulties. We mainly took phased, large-scale tax and fee cuts to help market entities overcome their difficulties, especially the large number of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and household businesses in various sectors that are the hardest hit by the pandemic. Last year, these policies saved more than 2.5 trillion yuan of business costs for market entities of all types. On the other hand, we have made greater efforts to improve the business environment, stimulate market vitality, and simplify business registration procedures, and offered equal safeguards for all types of businesses to level the playing field. The number of MSMEs and household businesses rebounded in the second half of last year, with the total number of market entities reaching 130 million. The newly established market entities have maintained a high degree of activity, contributing 2.5 trillion yuan to the tax revenue last year. The surviving and thriving of hundreds of millions of market entities has furnished a solid foundation for keeping employment stable, meeting people's basic needs, and stabilizing the fundamentals of the Chinese economy.

Li Keqiang pointed out that China's economy has been deeply integrated into the world economy. Reform and opening-up is the only way for China to achieve modernization. China has achieved development and continued to improve its own development level through opening-up. We will remain committed to opening-up and work to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. All parties should meet each other halfway, jointly safeguard international consensus such as multilateralism, and follow the rules-based multilateral trading system and the principle of fair competition. China and the EU recently announced that the China-EU investment agreement negotiations have completed on schedule, which demonstrated the joint efforts the two sides have made in upholding international rules and common aspiration for pushing economic and trade cooperation to a higher level.

On vaccine cooperation, Li Keqiang said that vaccines are the ultimate weapon to overcome the global pandemic and are global public goods, so the international community should strengthen global cooperation on vaccines. The successful cooperation between European and Chinese companies on vaccine production once again confirmed that maintaining the stability of the global industrial and supply chains is of key importance for work and production resumption in all countries, and safeguarding the human health and well-being. China will continue to strengthen cooperation with all parties on vaccine and drug research and development, so as to better safeguard the health and safety of the people.

On tackling climate change, Li Keqiang said that mankind has only one "Earth home", and the international community should work together to reduce emissions and pollution. President Xi Jinping recently announced that China will strive to achieve the peak of carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and the Chinese government is making a road map for that. China, as a major manufacturing country, is committed to making use of existing stock of resources and insisting on promoting the shift to low-carbon energy and green transformation of the economy and society in the process of advancing high-quality development. There are broad prospects for China-Europe cooperation in green development, digital economy and smart manufacturing. China hopes the European side will open wider to China in the fields including clean energy technology. China is willing to strengthen cooperation in relevant fields with the European side to better benefit all mankind.

Mandelson and other delegates praised China's achievements in promoting economic and social development, saying that the outbreak further highlights the importance of multilateralism and global cooperation and a strong China-Europe partnership will lead the international community to jointly cope with global challenges. The completion of EU-China investment agreement negotiations released positive signals, and the European business community looks forward to advancing the approval and full implementation of the investment agreement, and is willing to expand cooperation with China in green development, digital transformation, financial investment, and climate change. China's rapid development and sustained economic prosperity have brought benefits to European companies that have long invested in China. The European business community is full of confidence in China's development and will remain committed to strengthening cooperation with China.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials attended the above event.

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