EU markets 'top priority'
Updated: 2011-06-03 10:47
By Ding Qingfen and Yang Yang (China Daily European Weekly)
Chinese exporters confident of region despite debt crisis concerns: Report
Cups ready to head to Europe at a factory in Binzhou, Shandong province. China-EU trade was about 335 billion euros in 2010. [Dong Naide / for China Daily]
Chinese exporters will continue to give top priority to the European Union (EU) despite global concerns that Europe's debt crisis is worsening, a recent report by the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) showed.
But these companies are "much less confident" about other developed markets in North America, Japan and South Korea, it said.
The report was based on a survey among 276 small- and medium-sized Chinese export companies, with the majority operating in the manufacturing sector in more than 20 provinces and municipalities. It found that 52.5 percent of those polled consider the EU as the major market in the coming years.
This proportion is much higher than the 26 percent for North America and 6 percent for Japan and South Korea.
Commenting on the report, the EU Delegation to China said it was positive that, "based on this study, the EU is seen as such an attractive market for Chinese SMEs".
"Chinese exports are most welcome into the EU. We would encourage a similar development in the Chinese market. For both China and the EU, SMEs are a key part of the economy, with a huge potential for development," said a spokesman for the delegation in an e-mail reply to China Daily.
Ding Zhijie, the dean of the School of Banking and Finance at the university, who led the study, says: "The result comes from the development of trade between the two sides through the past years. The EU has been China's biggest trade partner, and the improved Sino-EU relationship brings about better trade environment."
The EU remains China's largest trading partner, while China is the EU's second largest. Bilateral trade was close to $480 billion (335.84 billion euros) in 2010, a 31.8 percent year-on-year increase, China Customs statistics show.
The EU has also replaced Japan as China's top import source based on the statistics in the first four months of the year, the Ministry of Commerce reported.
The exchange rate is another key factor for Chinese exporters to favor the EU market.
"The reason for that is probably the appreciation of the euro against the yuan, which makes Chinese goods competitive," says Zhang Yansheng, director of the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning agency.
In the past few years, especially after the financial crisis, the US dollar has been depreciating against the yuan. But the euro has been appreciating against the yuan, Ding Zhijie says.
"Therefore, companies exporting products to the EU have not suffered great loss due to the exchange rate after the financial crisis, which explains why they are confident about the EU market."
But as the European debt crisis will probably worsen, Chinese exporters have to be aware of the risks as the bloc may "launch more trade remedy cases against China", NDRC's Zhang says.
China has been a major target of the EU's anti-dumping investigations into exports. During the past 30 years, the EU has filed 140 cases against China, becoming the World Trade Organization (WTO) member with the most trade disputes with China.
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