FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee
December 28, 2020
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – China and the European Union are likely to clinch an investment deal this week that would give EU companies much better access to the Chinese market and protection for their assets there, a senior EU official said on Monday.
Talks on the agreement launched in 2014, but were stuck for years as the EU complained that China was failing to make good on promises to lift curbs on EU investment, despite a pledge to open up the world’s second largest economy.
But tensions in trade relations between the United States and China may have helped change the Chinese position and bring about a deal between Beijing and Brussels, the official said.
“The deal might already be done this week,” the official said, adding that the agreement, which could be struck during a video-conference on Wednesday, would be translated into legal texts over several months.
“We get much better market access and the protection of our investments in China. Better market access is something we have been working for for many years, and the Chinese have made quite a big step towards us,” the official said
The negotiations have been conducted by the European Commission, which handles all external trade issues for the 27-nation bloc.
“The Commission has all but finished negotiations, which were quite successful, especially when it comes to some difficult issues like labour rights,” the official said.
Ambassadors of EU governments in Brussels discussed the investment agreement on Monday, and no country had any major problems with it.
Officials said Poland suggested the EU should wait to discuss the deal with the new U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden, but other countries did not share this view.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Jan Harvey)