Interview with Carlo Diego D’Andrea, Managing Partner of DP Group; Vice President of the European Chamber and Shanghai Chapter Chair.
How long have you been in China?
I have lived in China for 15 years.
What’s the difference between China’s business/regulatory environment in your industry today vs. 20 years ago?
I am involved in the legal sector, therefore, in the past 20 years, we have seen very few steps towards opening up the market in our sector.
What changes do you expect to see in China’s business/regulatory environment in the next 20 years?
Rather than what I expect to see, what I dream of seeing and hope for regarding my industry is fair and equal treatment, a country where rule of law is the normal principle, where notions such as negative lists and areas of business in which foreign investment is refused are greatly reduced, and less involvement from state-owned enterprises in the business environment.
What role do you foresee the European Chamber taking in the next 20 years?
I count on the European Chamber continuing to be the voice of European business striving forward, not to be ‘panda-huggers’, always adopting a proactive role while standing beside European businesses in order to build bridges – not only between European and Chinese businesses, but also with the Chinese authorities. Ultimately, being a vehicle towards improvements in the legal and business frameworks of China.
What value has the European Chamber brought to you/your company/your industry?
The Chamber brings the attention of Chinese leadership towards the legal field, adding value to our industry. I still remember when I was the chair of the Legal and Competition Working Group, the president of the European Commission at that time, Jean-Claude Juncker, at the European Union (EU)-China Business Summit in Beijing, directly posed a question to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang asking for the reasoning behind the exclusion of European lawyers and law firms in China. I remember this as a great opportunity the Chamber has given our field, however, we have seen only small improvements since that time.
What’s your favourite experience from the European Chamber?
The first time we had a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels, I was one of the representatives of the European Chamber Delegation, and being there to speak to EU leaders was truly a powerful moment and indeed a great memory.
Do you remember the European Chamber’s first government meeting you attended, who it was with and how were you received?
Well, we are talking about a very long time ago, but I remember it was a meeting with the Nanjing mayor, when I was still a young practitioner having just arrived in China.
What memories do you have from the first time you took part in the drafting of a Position Paper?
Truly an important moment, a lot of work to be completed, but nonetheless important to do so as everyone from European to Chinese leaders reads it. Just to be clear, it is not a simple cut and paste job; every year, we try to improve upon the previous edition to enhance the European business environment in China.
Do you feel that the Chinese authorities care about the Chamber’s messaging and recommendations?
Yes, they do. I know they care about it and I’ll give you an example. When I went to Brussels in 2018, the new Chinese Ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, at an event said he wanted to meet the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China delegation. He mentioned that every time he discusses China with his EU counterparts, they all say they understand his points but the European Chamber’s Position Paper notes other perspectives regarding the same subject, and he is asked for his opinion on those. A moment of pride for the work of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, perfectly showcasing what we are doing to improve the European business environment in China.
Carlo Diego D’Andrea, Managing Partner of DP Group; Vice President of the European Chamber and Shanghai Chapter Chair.