EU Tells China More Access Needed to Seal Investment Accord

(Bloomberg) --

European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said China must improve an offer to scale back barriers to foreign money if the two sides are to reach a long-sought investment agreement this year.

While demanding more concessions from Beijing, Hogan kept alive an end-2020 target date for achieving an accord that would ease European investors’ access to the Chinese market.

“We are making progress,” Hogan told a BusinessEurope conference on Monday in Brussels. “We are not satisfied with the existing offer.”

China Is Stalling on Pledges to Ease Foreign Investment, EU Says

The outcome of the investment accord talks may serve as an indication of the EU’s broader approach toward China. So far, the bloc has taken a less confrontational approach than U.S. President Donald Trump in seeking to rebalance its trading and investment relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.

The EU is China’s No. 1 trade partner, while the Chinese market is the second biggest for European exports after the U.S.

Both sides have been in talks since 2013 on a bilateral pact that would reduce Chinese restrictions on European companies. In April last year, the EU and China set a 2020 target date for reaching an “ambitious” investment deal.

“Our objective is to keep working with China in relation to this agreement and conclude it by the end of this year,” Hogan said on Monday. “We will be as ambitious as we possibly can.”

In the negotiations, the EU will give priority to “substance over speed,” he said.

“We’ll have to make an assessment as we go along about whether we’re going to get 100% of what we want; usually that doesn’t happen that way,” Hogan said. “But if we get 99 I’ll be happy.”

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