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China's remarkable rise in trade sets sights on sustainability

2019-10-10GoldenBeeChristian Ewert0

Christian Ewert, President of amfori
2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. At this important milestone, we are glad to see that China is making efforts with likeminded international partners, including the European Union, to build an open and multilateral world economy.

Seamless global trade promotes harmonious coexistence between people, our planet and in turn, drives prosperity. It is also inspiring to see that China has taken an active role on sustainability issues globally, such as hosting the World Environment Day in June this year.
However, China has trekked along on a long path to arrive where it is today. Since its founding, China's economic and social progress has been dramatic. In amfori's view, China is one of the most salient examples of how open trade can contribute to great economic growth.

Since China opened to the world in 1978, its GDP has exponentially multiplied from USD 200 billion to USD 13 trillion in 2018, which is an impressive increase of 6,500%. While this increase is remarkable, such great volumes of trade-related growth have led to challenges for both the society and the environment.

Today, China is at a decisive moment in its shift to a circular, renewable economy, with sustainability issues being prioritised in public discussions. Sustainability has increasingly become a vital component of the Chinese economy and is no longer just a 'box-ticking' exercise. Initiatives on reducing social and environmental challenges, such as amfori BSCI and amfori BEPI, contribute that China’s growth continues while limiting the negative impacts on people and planet.
amfori initiatives translate the goals of sustainable development into feasible action plans, and many businesses that grasped these opportunities have enjoyed higher efficiency, increased productivity, enhanced competitiveness, better compliance with laws while delivering benefits for citizens and the environment.

Tackling the adverse effects of economic growth is also very high on the agenda for the European Union. As the leading economic actor on sustainable trade, closer ties to the EU could prove highly beneficial for China. Social and environmental sustainability is something that we in Europe have included in all of our trade agreements.

Recent EU trade agreements, such as those with Vietnam and Japan, all commit to implementing multilateral environmental accords such as the Paris Climate Agreement as well as basic ILO conventions. With this in mind, amfori is highly supportive of the European Union and China concluding a Bilateral Investment Agreement.

With such an agreement, both can take a leading role in promoting economic relations that foster inclusive growth and protect the environment. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can also be a useful channel in this respect. This global project can promote the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but at the same time deepen the connectivity between the participating economies form Europe, Asia as well as Africa.
The strong partnership between China Sustainable Tribune and amfori is strategically important for our organisation. Our aim is to present global developments in sustainability programs to China as well as showcase China's latest sustainability developments to the world. We are committed to deepening this meaningful partnership with China Sustainable Tribune and look forward to strengthening it even more.

In conclusion, amfori is committed to support "Open and Sustainable Trade with Purpose" and we look forward to working closely with China in achieving this strategic goal.

(The Chinese version of this article is published on China Sustainability Tribune)
(Images in this article are from the Internet)
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