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2019-11-04 | All chapters

EU Companies Place High Expectations on 2019 CIIE to Deliver Concrete Results

4th November 2019, Shanghai—A survey released today by the Shanghai Chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China reveals that while a good proportion of its members that attended the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in 2018 will be returning this year, there is an expectation that the event must produce more tangible outcomes.

42% of surveyed members participated in last year’s CIIE, with 79% of those expecting to participate again this year, and a further 23% of respondents who did not participate planning to take part for the first time this year, showing the importance that European businesses still place on the CIIE and the opportunities it presents. However, the survey also finds that large barriers to take part in the event remain, in particular the exceedingly high cost of participation, logistical issues and difficulties obtaining relevant information in advance, which deter small and medium sized companies in particular.

The survey also finds that only half of participants made deals last year. Many deals saw no follow-through, as respondents cited their partner’s failure to fulfil obligations as the reason, with one member even referring to their deal as just a “symbolic agreement”.  These responses suggest that too much emphasis had been placed on delivering quick, headline results, rather than creating a sound framework to allow European companies to expand in China in the long-term.

In terms of broader expectations, more than three-quarters of survey respondents see the CIIE as relevant to China’s opening up and reform agenda, but with about half stating that last year’s event did not live up to this expectation. The European Chamber believes that if the Protection of Geographical Indications (GI) agreement could be signed this year, it would prove that business relevant agreements can be reached. This could be an encouragement to conclude a robust EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) by 2020.

“We expect this year’s event to be supplemented by concrete measures to facilitate further market opening and increase foreign investment, not by empty promises that we have heard many times before,” said Carlo D’Andrea, vice president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and chairman of the Shanghai Chapter. “We want to see notable progress in providing European companies with the same unrestricted access to Chinese markets that their Chinese counterparts have in the EU.”

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Yichi Zhang