BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the European Union will speed up negotiations to conclude an investment agreement between China and the EU by the end of this year, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said on Tuesday. The conclusion of the comprehensive EU-China investment agreement would strengthen trade relations in a level playing field between two of the world`s largest economies. As the deadline for the agreement approaches, and as the 33rd round of negotiations approaches, author Weinian Hu hopes that China will strengthen its ambitions and contribute, through a more WTO offer, to bridging the gap between China`s and the EU`s positions, particularly with regard to access to the financial market. The lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the lack of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges to the EU-China investment relationship in recent years, as the negotiation of a Comprehensive Investment Agreement (IAC) is seen by the EU as a key instrument to remedy this situation. Another example is the far from important issue of market access. China says it has taken historic steps to open its market to foreign investors, but critics say it allows its own heavily subsidized players to saturate markets before doing so. At the beginning of the year, China opened up its financial services sector, notably by removing the ceilings for foreign investment. In its 2020 position paper, the European Chamber of Commerce in China stated: «The fact that the reform took place so late in the game had the effect of leaving foreign investors on a platform only after the train had left. (The Speaker of the House, Jorg Wuttke, recently stated that he did not think the AI could be completed this year.) At a summit held yesterday (1 October), one minute before midnight, EU heads of state and government issued a statement calling for a fairer and more reciprocal economic relationship with the world`s second-largest economy. They also stressed that it was time to negotiate an investment agreement reached eight years later that would take into account, among other things, some of the EU`s concerns about market access for its companies in China and the transparency of Chinese state-owned enterprises. But experts warn that the deal is less and less likely. These agreements have become possible because China has shown greater political will – without violating china`s bilateral agreement on China`s WTO membership – and has demonstrated EU trade pragmatism in accepting alternative concessions within and outside the financial sector.
Can this formula be magical again to help the EU and China agree on access to financial markets before concluding the IACs? Sabine Weyand, the European Commission`s director general of trade, said in Brussels in December that the negotiations were at «a snail`s pace,» as reported by the Financial Times. In January 2014, the EU and China began negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement. This would be the EU`s first autonomous investment agreement and would aim to streamline the current bilateral investment protection agreements between China and EU member states in a single text.