China-EU investment deal anticipated soon

China-EU investment deal anticipated soon

That Washington's European allies plowed ahead casts doubt on Biden's future ability to build a coalition of like-minded countries to counter Beijing, particularly if the EU, the world's single-largest trading bloc, becomes even more closely tied to China's economy.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU's trade commissioner, cautioned that the deal "is not a panacea to address all challenges linked to China, but it brings a number of welcome improvements". But after Biden won the US presidential election, Chinese negotiators went into overdrive, offering various concessions on market access for European companies to help push the deal through before the end of the year.

The negotiations started seven years ago, Zhang told a press briefing, reminding that both sides had chose to conclude the negotiations in 2020 during the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting in April 2019, and that since the beginning of 2020, Chinese and European leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed the aim to seal an agreement by the end of this year.

Beijing is emphasizing business and investment ties with Europe at a time when tensions with Washington over Chinese industry development ambitions and spying allegations have disrupted access to US markets and technology.

Singh's observations are in line with views expressed by many Indian social media users, who remember that German Chancellor Angela Merkel often touched on the role of "values" to differentiate the European Union from China, and even with US President Donald Trump in the past. For China, the agreement - coming close on the heels of the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - further enhances its worldwide influence.

The deal was reached "in principle" as negotiations drew to a close on the bilateral investment agreement, the negotiators said.

The agreement was struck as 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 USA and EU's 501 billion dollars' worth of trade. "We are open for business but we are attached to reciprocity, level playing field and values", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.

An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told journalists on Tuesday that if China fails to implement parts of the investment pact, the bloc could retaliate by reducing market access.

Stressing China's commitment to fostering a new development paradigm will provide more market opportunities and cooperation potential for the European Union and the world at large, Xi called on the European Union to uphold free trade and multilateralism, and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese investors.

Once finalized, the accord will need the approval of the European Parliament, where some voices have expressed objections as a result of alleged human-rights violations in China.

The EU is also seeking to tackle broader issues, such as China's use of industrial subsidies, through reform of the World Trade Organization.

The new deal, which was announced in the presence of German chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Chinese president Xi Jinping over video conferencing, offers business opportunities for firms on European and Chinese firms.

The European leaders said that despite the influence of COVID-19, Europe-China communications have been strengthened this year, with a great amount of progress made, including the conclusion of a geographical indications agreement on product origins.

But it has the potential to cause tension with the administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden only weeks after the European Union proposed a trans-Atlantic dialogue to address "the strategic challenge presented by China's growing global assertiveness". The two sides held the 35th round of negotiations early this month.

The US and China's deteriorating trade relations may have been a catalyst for a deal with the EU finally being agreed, officials have said, although an EU-China agreement could cause frictions with the incoming administration of Joe Biden.

For them, given the situation in Xinjiang (and Hong Kong), China must do more in terms of respect for human rights.

"Beijing will use these encounters to convey European endorsement of China's trade and investment regime - contrary to USA assertions about the disruptive and unfair nature of the Chinese system - and mute critics of recent Chinese strong-arm trade tactics towards Australia", they said.

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