Since 2012, China has been trying to get the European Union to agree to initiate bilateral free trade agreement talks. China is absent from both the transpacific (TPP) and the transatlantic (TTIP) trade deals and wants "in" on a similarly large pact itself in order to avoid losing out on trade flows or to have to follow new "global" standards set by others. European firms, for their part, want greater openings into China and a more even playing field with domestic companies, especially State-owned enterprises.
In March 2014, Brussels agreed that once an EU-China investment treaty is concluded it will consider broader trade talks with Beijing. The investment treaty negotiations began just a few months prior, in November 2013. Once finalised, this BIT willl replace the 26 existing BITs that China has signed over the years with individual EU member states.
The EU is China’s largest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second export market.
Photo: European External Action Service - EEAS / CC BY-NC 2.0
Officials promised to hit a key milestone in their negotiations for an investment treaty, saying that they would exchange market access offers at next month’s leaders’ summit.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi tried to ease Germany’s concerns over Beijing’s cooperation with 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which many European Union leaders consider a threat to the bloc’s integration, during his visit to Berlin on Thursday.
The European lawmakers will discuss the recently-imposed US tariffs on steel and aluminum, the question of overcapacity, a bilateral investment agreement, market access and intellectual property rights among other topics.
Despite rising concerns about Chinese investment among some European officials, China and the EU are moving fast toward completing a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and a free trade agreement (FTA), according to media reports.
China and Germany have agreed to speed up negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement so as to further enrich the two countries’ cooperation and ties.
European companies are hoping that a bilateral investment treaty between China and European Union can be concluded within 12 months.
The German Chancellor wants to push forward negotiations to conclusively finalize a bilateral investment agreement between the European Union and China
Beijing wants Brussels to set the ambitious goal of launching free trade agreement talks in a bid to maximize the potential benefits for both sides while China implements its new five-year (2016-20) social and economic program.
"China is willing to push forward talks for a bilateral investment treaty" with the EU, Premier Li Keqiang said, adding that it would include a "negative list" of areas off-limits to European investors.
Brussels and Beijing should speed up negotiation of a Sino-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty and strive to sign it within this year, a Chinese think-tank argues