December 2, 2019
Earlier this month, I came back to the ACEA offices in Brussels after a fruitful trip to Asia, which included stops in Singapore, China and Japan. One of the reasons for this visit was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our Beijing office, which is one of ACEA’s major success stories in my view.
But the first stop on my trip was Singapore, where I attended the 26th edition of the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). In addition to getting an update on the latest ITS innovations from around the world, I met with the Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA) to talk about the future of ITS and how European auto makers can contribute to their ambitious plans for the region.
Likewise, we had some very interesting exchanges with government representatives in Tokyo, where I also met our counterparts at the Japan Automobile Importers Association (JAIA) who represent the interests of many ACEA members. What I found particularly interesting was learning more about the Strategic Innovation Promotion Programme of the Japanese government, which is a cross-ministerial initiative for performing large-scale field tests with automated driving systems.
If we want to further the development and the actual deployment of automated driving technology in the near future, it is vital to perform operational testing on open roads. So, we are following this Japanese project with great interest, as we are undertaking similar initiatives across the EU.
However, one of my key reasons for travelling to Asia was to join our colleagues in Beijing for the celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of ACEA’s office in China. The fact that the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association has been present in China for one and half decades now should not go unnoticed, which is why we organised an anniversary reception on 24 October.
Among the esteemed guests that joined us to celebrate the birthday of the Beijing office, were representatives of important institutions and organisations such as the Equipment Industry Developing Center (EIDC) of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC), the Society of Automotive Engineers of China (SAE-China), the State Information Center (SIC) and the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
Other guests included our sister associations that are also active in China – such as the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) – as well as numerous other Chinese and European stakeholders that are important to us.
The evening was formally opened by Dominik Declercq, Chief Representative of the ACEA Beijing office, who welcomed all present in his opening address and used the occasion to thank regulators and other stakeholders for the excellent cooperation over the years, not to forget ACEA’s member companies for their continued support.
The floor was then given to Qu Guochun, Director General of EIDC, who gave a speech on behalf of the Chinese auto industry institutions attending the reception. He congratulated ACEA on its success in China since 2004, highlighting in particular the close and constructive cooperation between ACEA and EIDC / MIIT. It was an honour to hear that, as it underlined the trust of the Chinese government in ACEA and our people in Beijing.
Our former Secretary General Erik Jonnaert, who joined me on this trip, also praised the members of the Beijing team for their continued hard work and ambitious spirit. Jonnaert acknowledged especially the China office’s contribution to the further internationalisation of the European and Chinese automotive industries.
Finally, it was my turn to address the audience. Even though I only took over leadership from Erik Jonnaert a few weeks ago, the importance of our overseas office was abundantly clear to me from the outset. China is of great strategic importance to EU auto makers, and bringing European and Chinese automotive players closer together is instrumental to the success of our industry’s transformation in the future.
In fact, ACEA was one of the very first European sector-specific industry associations to expand its activities to China. When our office in Beijing opened in October 2004, the main idea was to foster and facilitate cooperation between the auto industries of the European Union and China.
Around that time our member companies were further expanding their global presence, and in China in particular. Simultaneously, the Chinese authorities started to accelerate the process of opening up their domestic market to foreign investment. In retrospect, and as a newcomer to this industry, I really have to say that my predecessors at ACEA had the foresight to acknowledge the importance of the Chinese market at the right moment.
Back in 2004 when we opened up shop in Beijing, some 2.5 million passenger cars were sold in China per year. Fifteen years later, the Chinese car market has increased more than nine-fold, counting 23 million new cars registered last year alone. China and the EU are the two largest car markets in the world today, together accounting for more than half of global passenger car output. But it is not just the numbers that count. Because at the same time our two regions are also consolidating their role as global regulatory powers that set ambitious targets and standards which shape the future of mobility.
With that in mind, the main objective of our representative office today is to advocate the common interests of European auto manufacturers in China, by engaging in dialogue with all relevant Chinese government departments, institutions and bodies in order to contribute to effective legislation and policy making. This includes important issues like technical standardisation, the regulatory framework, market and production access, international trade and aftersales.
Especially today, with the ongoing mobility transformation that is reshaping our industry, Europe and China are facing very similar challenges when it comes to automation, connectivity, alternatively-powered vehicles and new mobility models. It goes without saying that there is tremendous potential for collaboration in these fields between the two regions.
Our colleagues in Beijing play an important role in this, acting as a bridge between Europe and China in order to promote further cooperation and harmonisation at all levels, ranging from government departments, to scientific research institutions and other important organisations.
Since its inception, the China office has evolved into a competent and efficient team under the leadership of Dominik Declercq. The other indispensable people that make up his team are Zhang Shuo (Director), Yu Yangyang (Senior Manager of the Safety Working Group), Feng Feng (Manager of the Commercial Vehicle Working Group), the office manager Yang Yueran and Wang Wei, who assists Dominik.
On behalf of our members I would like to sincerely thank them for making the ACEA Beijing Representative Office one of ACEA’s major success stories of the last decades. I am very much looking forward to working with them in the years to come!
Director General of ACEA