EU Won’t Meet China Halfway in Investment Talks: EU Trade Chief

January 20, 2020 Updated: January 20, 2020

BRUSSELS—The European Union wants to agree to a deal with China this year to protect foreign investment and increase investment market access, but it will not meet Beijing halfway, EU trade chief Phil Hogan said on Jan. 20.

Hogan told a conference held by business lobby group BusinessEurope that the EU wanted to see “concrete progress” from China on opening up its markets.

“Meeting halfway will not work for the EU. Our markets are largely open, probably the most open in the world. We have therefore have made it very clear that we expect and are demanding a rebalancing of the asymmetry.”

China and the EU launched negotiations on an investment pact in 2013 and held a 26th round of talks due to end on Jan. 21 after a second exchange of offers in December 2019.

Hogan said the EU and China were making progress in the negotiations, although he wasn’t satisfied with the latest offer from Beijing.

Chinese companies, he said, were already being given equal treatment to European firms in Europe, with fair and predictable laws.

“It’s up to China to level the playing field for our companies operating in their country,” he said.

Hogan spoke after the United States and China concluded a partial trade agreement that will commit China to buying some $200 billion of U.S. goods over two years, but didn’t address the structural reforms both the United States and the EU want to see in China.

In March 2019, the executive arm of the EU called Beijing a “strategic rival” in a report on EU–China relations. It also called out China’s unfair trade practices, such as increasingly favoring domestic companies over EU firms for projects.

EU companies also must overcome “onerous requirements” as a prerequisite to access the Chinese market, including creating joint ventures or transferring key technologies to Chinese counterparts, the report stated.

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.