The investment protection agreement that China and the European Union have been negotiating for seven years is “in the home stretch,” Beijing said on Friday, as the two sides have set themselves the goal of concluding this year.
A compromise between Chinese and Europeans would cement economic ties between the two powers just before Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House in a month.
Asked during a press briefing, Chinese diplomacy spokesman Wang Wenbin said the talks had made “significant progress” after 10 negotiating sessions in 2020.
“The negotiations have entered the home stretch,” he said, hoping that both sides “will manage to achieve the goals set by leaders on both sides.”
At a virtual China-EU summit last September, President Xi Jinping and his European partners agreed to conclude the talks before the end of the year.
Discussions are “intensive” and “progress has been made in a number of areas,” a European Commission spokesperson echoed.
“The European Union remains determined to conclude the negotiations at the end of the year as far as it is worth the trouble,” he added. “We will not prioritize speed at the expense of content.”
Asked by AFP, the president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, Joerg Wuttke said that the negotiators had “apparently made great progress in terms of market access”.
While a meeting of ambassadors from the 27 EU member countries is scheduled for the day in Brussels, he said he hoped for an agreement “in the coming days” if the states decide to support the negotiations.
Launched in November 2013, the negotiations aim to mutually protect European investments in China and Chinese investments in the EU.
Europeans want their businesses to be treated the same in China as Chinese businesses in the EU. The 27 demand better respect for intellectual property, an end to technology transfers imposed on foreign firms in China and excessive subsidies to Chinese public enterprises.
These are also themes raised by the United States in the context of the trade war launched by the administration of outgoing President Donald Trump against China in 2018.