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Ten years of Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation towards mutual benefit

2017-09-28China WTO Tribuneadmin0010

Interviewee: Zhai Qian, Deputy Director General of Department of European Affairs, Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (MOFCOM)
This year is the tenth anniversary of Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation. In June 2007, Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs jointly signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Corporate Social Responsibility, which opened a new chapter in CSR cooperation between China and Sweden.
Over the past 10 years, the CSR development in China has made tremendous progress, and the cooperation between China and Sweden in CSR has adapted to the trend and became deepening towards a road of mutual benefit and win-win situation for both countries.
As the leading department of Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation, how does MOFCOM evaluate this groundbreaking cooperation? What impact has the cooperation had on the economic and trade relations between the two countries? Where will the future cooperation go? The journalist of China WTO Tribune interviewed Zhai Qian, Deputy Director General of Department of European Affairs, MOFCOM.
Great achievements highlight the cooperation
China WTO Tribune: As one of the earliest international cooperation projects in the areas of social responsibility in China, Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation has lasted for 10 years, what is your opinion on the achieved results of CSR cooperation in the past 10 years?
Zhai Qian: With advocacy and promotion by high-level leaders of two countries, the Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation in the last decade is very fruitful. It becomes not only the highlight of Sino-Swedish economic and trade cooperation, but also a pilot of project among Sino-European CSR cooperation projects. In June 2007, during the state visit to Sweden by Hu Jintao, then President of China, Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs jointly signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Corporate Social Responsibility, which marked the official launch of Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation; In July 2009, the 17th Session of Sino-Swedish Trade and Economic Joint Committee established Sino-Swedish CSR Working Group, which has held three meetings so far. Since 2008, two countries have successfully held 17 Sino-Swedish CSR Workshops and China sent delegations to Sweden for CSR exchange; In order to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Corporate Social Responsibility, China and Sweden jointly launched the Sino-Swedish CSR Website, which is an authoritative website in the field of CSR in China. It has accumulated 8 million visits, and plays an important role in promoting the development and promotion of CSR.
China WTO Tribune: In your opinion, what kind of impact and changes have the CSR cooperation project made to the CSR development in China over the past 10 years? In particular, what kind of role has this cooperation played in promoting economic and trade cooperation between two countries?
Zhai Qian: Both countries have strengthened the communication through CSR cooperation. We have promoted the advanced experience of Sweden in CSR development to help China build CSR system according to China’s national conditions. We have also advocated enterprises to undertake the social responsibility and make positive contribution to China’s CSR development. At present, China has gradually formed the social responsibility promotion pattern of integrating government guidance, industry promotion, enterprise practice, social participation and international cooperation.
Sino-Swedish CSR cooperation has gradually affected the enterprise cooperation philosophy in two countries, transforming from the simple commercial mutual benefit into social-friendly mutual benefit. The level of cooperation continues to improve to promote and deepen bilateral trade and investment cooperation. At present, Sweden is China’s largest trading partner in the Nordic region, and China has maintained to be Sweden’s largest trading partner in Asia. In 2016, two countries’ bilateral trade volume reached $12.46 billion. In recent years, Chinese companies have stepped up their investment in Sweden, and two-way investment has become more balanced. By the end of 2016, China’s various kinds of investments in Sweden had accumulated to $3.88 billion, and Sweden’s total realized investment into China had reached $4.35 billion.
Innovative cooperation pattern enhances cooperation effect
China WTO Tribune: In September 2015, New Memorandum of Understanding for Continued Cooperation on CSR between Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was signed by Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Since then, what kind of new progresses have been made in CSR cooperation by two sides?
Zhai Qian: This MOU adds new areas in CSR cooperation, including green procurement, waste and water disposal, climate change, transparency enhancement, business ethics, etc.
Since the signing of new MOU, two countries have held the CSR Workshop in Zhuhai and Chongqing respectively, and held the third meeting of CSR Working Group. We have organized Chinese enterprises to go to Sweden to have CSR exchange activity for the first time. In addition, the visit of Sino-Swedish CSR Website has been greatly increased.
In February 2017, at the 20th Session of Sino-Swedish Trade and Economic Joint Committee, the report on social responsibility of China made by Sino-Sweden CSR Working Group was confirmed by the chairman of the Joint Committee. In June, Zhong Shan, Minister of Commerce of PRC met Ann Linde, Minister of European Affairs and Trade of Sweden in Beijing. The two sides reviewed the progress made in CSR cooperation and made positive comments. In the second half of this year, China and Sweden will jointly hold the 18th CSR Workshop, and once again organize Chinese enterprises to visit Sweden for CSR exchanges. China and Sweden will continue to consolidate the cooperation achievements, innovate cooperation pattern and enhance the impact of cooperation on the basis of existing cooperation.
China WTO Tribune: China and Sweden have continued CSR cooperation for 10 years, which has formed a relatively mature cooperation pattern and mechanism. Could this model be replicated and promoted?
Zhai Qian: There is no doubt that the pattern of CSR cooperation has great significance for China’s cooperation with other countries in related fields. For example, Sino-Sweden CSR Working Group, Sino-Swedish CSR Workshops and Sino-Swedish CSR Website have become a normal and mechanized cooperation pattern. This pattern could be replicated and promoted in the cooperation with other countries.
With the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative and the increase of “Going Global” enterprises, Chinese enterprises is facing increasing international pressures, and social responsibility becomes indispensable competitive factor while participating in international competition. Meanwhile, Chinese government raises higher request on Chinese enterprises to fulfill social responsibility. Strengthening CSR international exchanges and cooperation and actively participating in the formulation of international CSR standards help to create a good external environment for the development of Chinese enterprises overseas. These measures are significant to enhance Chinese enterprises’ ability of cross-cultural communication and increase their international competitiveness.

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