MADRID — Commerce between China and the European Union (EU) helps restart their economies which has been put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic, a renowned Spanish economist said here Monday.

“The economy has fallen a lot with the pandemic; there is no doubt it is a situation that rewards good relations between China and the EU,” Ramon Tamames, member of Spain’s Royal Academy of Moral and Political Science, told Xinhua as Chinese leaders and the new EU leaders held their first official meeting on Monday via video link.

The 22nd China-EU leaders’ meeting came on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.

Speaking at the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is willing to join hands with the European side to push for a more stable and mature relationship in the post-pandemic era and lift their ties to a new height.

Xi called on both sides to serve as two huge markets that promote global development and prosperity, and to maintain market openness to each other.

For their parts, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU-China relationship is full of vitality.

The EU is ready to expand bilateral trade and push for more progress in cooperation with China in green and low-carbon development, digital economy and other areas, they said.

“We have to think about a free trade agreement to give flexibility to the exchanges,” said Tamames, a professor of economic structure.

“I think that China will make a huge effort to recover and to try and stop 2020 from being a year of negative growth. They have all the instruments to do so,” he said, voicing his optimism that the EU can also seize an important opportunity.

“Europe will know how to manage things for commerce to increase between China and the EU,” he said.

Recalling the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, Tamames said China “made a big effort to increase investments in infrastructures” back then.

This time, “with a more flexible model of production” in 2020, China could play a different role in stimulating production in other countries, by “making it easier (for others) to export,” he said.

Tamames expressed confidence that with its financial reserves, China “would have no problems increasing imports for longer periods,” which can not only benefit other countries, but also help itself “attend to the needs of its consumers.”

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