China said talks with the European Union on a bilateral investment agreement are in their final stages, citing progress made among negotiators as they seek to reach an agreement before a deadline at the end of the year.
“The negotiations are now in their final stage,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference in Beijing on Friday. “I believe that as long as the two sides can take care of each other’s concerns and walk toward each other, we will be able to achieve the goals our leaders set.”
Earlier, the South China Morning Post reported that the two sides reached an agreement “in principle” after receiving the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The report added that Germany said the agreement would be discussed between 27 representatives of the European Union bloc on Friday.
“We are not quite there yet, but it is certainly possible that if things go forward as they are moving now, we could close this year,” said Valdes Dombrowskis, Executive Vice President in charge of economic affairs at the European Commission. Brussels to Bloomberg TV on Friday.
“We need to rebalance economic and investment relations with China, because Europe is currently more open to Chinese investments than China to European Union investments,” Dombrowskis added.
Target Deal – known as Comprehensive investment agreement – It has the potential to reshape the economic relations between China and the European Union even as political divisions persist. Bilateral trade topped $ 650 billion last year, and the new agreement aims to build on that.
On Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said in a regular briefing that the two sides held consultations that focused on the remaining issues and made “significant progress”. He said, “The two teams will continue to work hard to achieve the negotiation goals set by the leaders of the two sides.”
The agreement will be the second significant bilateral economic deal between the European Union and China this year after they reached terms on geographical indications in July 2020, according to George Wootke, head of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
“CAI should increase European companies’ access to the fastest growing markets in the world, and provide a framework that allows them to compete on a level playing field while keeping the same for Chinese companies in its largest market – the European Union, ”Wootke said earlier. this week.
While the deal represents a diplomatic win for both parties, it will be particularly welcomed by Beijing as it provides an opportunity to revive relations with the European Union that have grown increasingly in recent years.
Brussels became more vocal in her country Cash China on a range of cases from alleged human rights violations in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region to the further militarization of the South China Sea. The European Union has also raised concerns about a new National Security Act in Hong Kong that restricts freedoms in former British territories.
Reaching an agreement wasn’t easy. The conversations that started in 2013 were lengthy On provisions to open up the Chinese market and eliminate what the European Union considers discriminatory practices.
The European Union has also been seeking commitments from China on sustainable development issues including labor issues – an area that has become a major obstacle to the deal.
– With the help of Coulom Murphy, Lin Chu, Jing Li, James Major, Jonathan Sterns and Maria Tadeo
(Updates with comments from Dombrovskis from the European Union in the fourth and fifth paragraphs)