The history of trade relations between Macao and Europe shows that the relationship has been changing in status, as is the overall East West relations. Since mainland China launched it's open-door policy, Macao has acted in an intermediary role as a strategic partner between China and the European Union (EU), due to the strong links between China and Portugal, the importing incentive offered to Macao and its increasing economic capability.
Since 1992, given the attraction of the fast growing Chinese economy, the EU has started to move towards China, to seek and establish entrances into China. Therefore, the EU and Macao signed the protocol of 「Trade and Co-operation Agreement」. This agreement mainly consists of the following: a steering committee was set up, to allow for co-operation of industrialisation, investment, energy, science and technology, communication and training. The committee has been working on these areas since 1993.
a) In the area of trade, Macao and Hong Kong share 8 to 10 per cent of Chinese goods exported to the EU. Under the conditions of the export quota offered by Euro-America, Macao has put a lot of effort into its developing manufacturing to satisfy export demands. Also, the key products imported into Macao are mainly raw materials and low value non-durable items, like textiles, garments, toys and footwear. 95% of these products are exported to the EU. Obviously, Macao has been functioning as a bridge for trade both directly and indirectly for China and the EU
b) The representatives of the two regions have established a joint committee, which meets at least once a year. This meeting is to be held alternately in Macao and Brussels. The committee is responsible for the implementing agreed projects, offer advice and sharing ideas during the meeting.
c) The EU has established an Euro-Info Centre in Macao; it was the first information centre in the Asia region. The Euro-Info Centre, Macao aims to provide information services on trading, legislation, society, technology, financial regulation, training, seminars, market research for Chinese and European enterprises. Furthermore, this centre enables them to seek co-operation partners and to stimulate collaboration. In January 1991, the Euro-Info Centre, Macao was recognized by Asia Investment Secretariat of the EU as 「Asia-Invest Antenna」, which is responsible for assisting the secretariat to promote Asia-Invest Programmes in Macao and intermediary bodies in Mainland China.
d) The EU initially suggested the Asia ¡VInvest Programme and in 1998, Macao was formally approved as one of the Asian incentive zones for the Asia-Invest Programme. After that, Macao intermediary commercial bodies would be able to work with the relevant EU partners to jointly organise Asia-Invest projects. The Asia-Invest Programme aims to promote and support the trade co-operation that would mutually benefit, encourage investment and initiate communication between the EU and Asia. As a market-orientated programme, the Asia-Invest Programme subsidises research, language and business culture and commercial activities of various industries suggested by industrial organisations. This programme also acts as a model to provide industrial techniques and professional knowledge and support to developing countries.
e) EUREKA meets Asia, a big event that is organised every two years in Macao, to foster co-operation and communication via computer network between scientific technological units and academic institutions. In the year 2000, there were 1,050 representatives that participated in EUREKA meets Asia 2000 and more than 5,000 visitors attended. The result could be described as fruitful because of the following figures: 312 co-operation discussions, eight large seminars, 91 contracts of intent and 29 protocols were signed.
f) The Macao Institute of European Studies has been carrying out academic research and professional training since its inception in 1996. The Institute regularly organises conferences involving Macao, Asia and the EU. The Institute also has its own publications to disseminate information from the EU. The masters degree programme of European Studies opened by the Institute not only welcomes local students, but also encourage students from China's top educational establishment to enroll.
g) In Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT), the EU set up a Macao-Europe Centre for Advanced Tourism Studies (MECATS) in 1999. IFT aims to be the first class Tourism Studies and Training Centre.
h) A research project 「Macao Service Centre」 being undertaken by KPMG, the international consultancy firm is focusing on Macao's investment environment. The key module to be studied includes the offshore centre established by the Macao Government. KPMG will provide suggestions to the Macao SAR Government and IPIM on how to manage the offshore centre, how to strengthen the system and how to promote the Macao investment environment.