EU and China on the verge of an investment deal, business group says
Beijing, Dec. 18, (dpa/GNA) – The European Union and China might finalize a previously elusive investment agreement in the next few days, the president of a European business group said Friday in Beijing.
The EU-China investment agreement, seven years in the making, would ensure that European companies in China can compete with domestic firms on a level playing field. It would also safeguard Chinese companies’ access to European markets.
Negotiators on both sides were on the verge of a breakthrough this week after China made some concessions regarding access to its finance, manufacturing and real estate sectors, according to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.
On the other hand, the EU had agreed in principle to grant China access to its renewable energy sector, the paper said, quoting a diplomatic source in Brussels.
« The EU Chamber is very hopeful that the negotiations on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) can be finalized by a political agreement in the next days, » Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, told dpa.
While the agreement is « hardly a revolutionary accord between fellow economic powers, » it is important to the European business community in China because it addresses long-standing issues related to market access, Wuttke said.
Chinese and European leaders had previously said they were hoping to reach an agreement by Christmas.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, two of the EU’s most influential leaders, are understood to be in support of the deal, the South China Morning Post reported, quoting a source briefed on the talks.
Nevertheless, critics say a China-EU agreement would complicate US President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to reinstate partnerships with European allies and further rein in China’s influence.
China this year surpassed the United States as the EU’s top trading partner, with bilateral trade in the first nine months reaching 516.8 billion dollars, overtaking the US and EU’s 501 billion dollars’ worth of trade.