EU Touts China Investment Deal as Way to Boost European Firms

The European Union’s top trade official said that newly published details of its investment agreement with China underscore how businesses are set to benefit from increased access.

The deal “rebalances the EU-China investment relationship,” the bloc’s Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement on Friday. “The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment will help to level the playing field and provide more market openings for EU companies and investors.”

The accord, which received political approval in December, expands access to the Chinese market for European investors in industries ranging from cars to telecommunications. It also seeks to tackle underlying Chinese policies deemed to be market-distorting, such as industrial subsidies, state control of enterprises and forced technology transfers.

China ranked as the EU’s second-largest trade partner in 2019 (behind the U.S.), with two-way goods commerce valued at more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) a day.

The agreement signals the bloc’s determination to focus on economic opportunities in Asia even amid criticism of Beijing’s record on human rights. It could enter into force in early 2022.

Once finalized, the accord will need the approval of the European Parliament, where some voices have expressed objections as a result of alleged human-rights violations in China. The deal includes Chinese pledges on labor standards meant to address such concerns.

“The agreement provides a clear and enforceable framework of rules, which will give EU businesses greater access and more certainty when investing in China,” Dombrovskis said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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