Date
14 December 2017
European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen attends a session during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen attends a session during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

EU urges China to speed up negotiations on investment pact

The European Union called for speeding up negotiations on an EU-China investment agreement, saying the pact will help Chinese President Xi Jinping carry forward his Belt and Road plan.

Hosting world leaders on the second day of a two-day Belt and Road summit in Beijing, Xi said on Monday that it was crucial for his signature foreign policy and global development plan to “reject protectionism”.

“President Xi has repeated this message several times now, and it is a good sign, and we want to help him deliver. The easiest way to deliver what he has said is to speed up EU-China investment agreement negotiations,” European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told Reuters.

Such an investment deal is “urgently needed” to boost business links between the two sides, Katainen was quoted as saying in an interview on the sidelines of the Beijing forum.

China and the EU are set to hold their own summit in Brussels in early June, during which the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) currently under negotiation will be a central focus.

Katainen said calls are rising in Europe that China give EU businesses access to its market in the way that EU markets were open to Chinese investment.

“People in Europe are just asking for reciprocity. Nothing more,” said the official, who headed the EU’s delegation to the Belt and Road forum.

“Something must change now. Also, taking into account what President Xi has said, it would be not that encouraging if the (EU-China) summit would not deliver even though the political will has been expressed so directly several times,” he said.

Europe wants to see “concrete, measurable outcomes” from investment talks, Katainen said, adding that “results” could be possible within a year if Beijing shows strong enough political will to make market access offers.

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RC

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