“I Have Seen 40 Leaders In a Week And Nobody Wants Economic Fragmentation Or War”

It is an uncertain world, still suffering from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and traversed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And, in this context, the President of the Government, Pedro S√°nchez, has demanded at the inauguration of the economic forum of Boao (the Chinese Davos) diplomacy, cooperation, commercial reciprocity and the end of the war: “In a few days, I have attended the European Council in Brussels, to the Ibero-American Summit in Santo Domingo, and now I am here on an official visit to China. In less than a week, I will have met with more than 40 leaders from three different continents. And let me be clear: at every meeting I have heard the same yearning for peace, stability and prosperity. Nobody wants economic fragmentation or war.‚ÄĚ

At the Boao forum, on the island of Hainan, the southernmost point of China, with 90% humidity due to the region’s tropical climate, S√°nchez called for “responsible and constructive actors” to an audience that included Chinese Premier Li Keqiang; IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva; former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong; Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim; the Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast, Patrick Achi, among others.

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S√°nchez has defended Spain as a “reliable and open” country, which will assume the presidency of the Council of the EU in July, in addition to being part of the Ibero-American community. “It is essential to rebuild trust through dialogue, solidarity and cooperation”, S√°nchez stated, in a forum dedicated to an “uncertain world”.

‚ÄúIn this vein, I welcome the intensification of the diplomatic contacts of the Chinese authorities with leaders from all over the world. It reflects a high degree of responsibility, and we want to contribute to these efforts”, pointed out S√°nchez, referring to the recent trip of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping‚Äč, and the visits of upcoming European leaders, including that of the Spanish president, in addition to the French, Emmanuel Macron, and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “Our views may differ in some areas, but we must continue to build bridges and increase mutual trust,” she said.

S√°nchez has defended “an international order based on rules”, “free, balanced and fair” trade in the face of a world “fragmented and dominated by protectionist tendencies”, which “represents a return to the past”. The President of the Government has recognized that there are those who affirm that “a process of ‘deglobalisation’ is underway”. And, before that, he maintains that what is happening “is a change in the way of conceiving and articulating globalization.”

“China and the EU, as large markets and geopolitical entities, must compete in some areas and cooperate in others,” said S√°nchez, who added, in an allusion to human rights and liberal democracies: “we will continue to defend values, European principles and views with an independent perspective, and with a keen awareness of our goals, interests and priorities. We will not give them up. We must continue to deepen this mutually beneficial collaboration. But we have to do it respecting the sovereignty of each country and respecting the rules.‚ÄĚ

And what does that mean? ‚ÄúLevel the playing field and ensure full reciprocity between partners. It means providing a stable regulatory framework that allows domestic and foreign companies to compete on a level playing field. It means opening up the East, so that the West does not have to close in on itself. I firmly believe that relations between Europe and China and, by extension, between Spain and China, do not have to be confrontational: there is ample room for win-win cooperation. We must continue to be partners, financially and beyond.‚ÄĚ

S√°nchez has listed three “key areas” in which he considers that the scope for collaboration is “immense”: “The strengthening of multilateralism; the need to accelerate the fight against climate change, as signatories to the Paris agreement; and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reform the international financial architecture‚ÄĚ.

The President of the Government recalled in his speech that “bilateral trade almost doubled between 2017 and 2022, growing from 32,000 million euros to 57,700 million euros last year.” China is already “the number one supplier to Spain and the largest market in Asia for Spanish companies”. According to S√°nchez, ‚Äúthis happens because Spain is one of the best places in Europe to invest and do business. We offer an ideal geopolitical position (sitting at the intersection of three continents), a vibrant and robust private sector, world-class physical and digital infrastructure, a highly-skilled workforce, affordable clean energy, and institutional stability and legal certainty. that investments need to prosper‚ÄĚ.

Thus, the President recalled that “Spain continues to grow above the eurozone average, has one of the lowest inflation rates in the EU and has reached all-time highs in foreign direct investment, with flows close to 35,000 million euros, a large part of them destined for industrial projects and renewable energies.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe global economy needs reliable partners that can be trusted. And Spain is and will be one of them”, S√°nchez has sentenced.

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