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Overseas views on NPC & CPPCC: China's new normal, what this means for EU SMEs

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

03-13-2016 14:36 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

Editor's note: The National People's Congress (NPC), China's top parliamentary body, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, have convened its annual sessions, known as the "two sessions" on March 3-15 2016, which marks a pivotal year as the nation continues on to embark with its reforms and opening up policy, shifting towards a "New Normal" for economic growth rates, starting its 13th Five-Year Plan for social and economic development over the next five years and confronting challenges on the foreign policy front. How will the NPC address those concerns? What do foreign experts and Overseas Chinese say? The Panview Column of CNTV has invited some of them to express their views on major issues to be discussed at the ongoing two sessions.

By Christopher Cheung, EU SME Centre Director

For European Union SMEs (small medium-sized enterprises) that have already set up business in China, they are confronting a mixed picture. FDI (foreign direct investment) flows from the EU to China have increased by 17.8 percent from 2010 to 2013, reaching 17.1 billion Euro in 2013.


Accordingly, European companies remain confident with long-term growth prospects on China. However, they are beginning to see their profit margins getting slimmer.

Average annual human resources costs have increased by 11.4 per cent from 2000 to 2013 and competition is increasing from foreign and domestic companies. There is an increasing sense that as they look inwards, these players will be approaching the same segments.

In the short term, companies think they will be impacted by the Chinese economic downturn, especially for companies producing industrial goods and services more so than the ones on the consumer side.

European companies are looking to other countries, particularly South East Asia, but primarily for market seeking purposes; most are not looking to relocate.

If we look at exports, European small businesses are excited by the prospects of Chinese domestic consumption accounting for a larger share of the economy. In the last five years, exports to China from the EU have risen by 9.8 per cent to 160 billion Euro while exports from China to the EU have grown by 1.6%.

China's new normal recognizes that domestic consumption would play a larger role in the economy. Meanwhile, Chinese consumers crave more goods from the EU. At the EU SME Centre, the three areas where we have seen the highest demand for our goods have been in food and beverages, cosmetics and medical devices.

However, if we look at the broader picture: Machinery and electronics equipment will continue to make up the lion's share of exports from the EU to China and as the country upgrades its industrial processes there is the potential for the value of these exports to rise further.

The upgrading and innovating of industrial processes are areas where European small businesses can play a crucial role. The EU SME Centre is researching opportunities in industrial robotics, agricultural equipment and green technology.

Actually, in Germany there are around 232 industrial robots per 10,000 workers, while in China there is only 14 robots per 10,000. China is also in the process of setting up more manufacturing innovation centres (15 by 2020 and 40 by 2025) in order to attract innovative technologies from abroad.

Although the opportunities are huge, technology transfer to China from the EU is still at the beginning stage. One of the key ongoing concerns for many small technology businesses regards protection of their IPR (intellectual property rights).  

Finally, there is an overarching trend that is highlighted in the Thirteenth Five Year Plan, which is - China is coming to Europe. Chinese direct investment flows to the EU have increased by 135.5% to 4.8 billion Euros over the last four years and the number of Chinese tourists visiting the EU countries has now reached 7.4 million.

Even if European SMEs are not contemplating doing business here, there are already Chinese businesses and consumers interacting with their products and services. Hence to a great extent, they are already in China.

European brands are already listed on China's e-commerce platforms or talked about frequently on their social media. This would increasingly represent the New Normal for China and the EU.

Christopher Cheung, Director of EU SME Centre. He holds a Master's degree in Chinese and Business from the University of Leeds and an MBA from the University of Warwick. The EU SME Centre in Beijing provides a comprehensive range of hands-on support services to European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), getting them ready to do business in China. To learn more about the Centre, visit website www.eusmecentre.org.cn.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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