Tuesday, March 9

The EU closes an investment agreement with China


Wednesday, December 30, 2020 – 15:27

The pact aims to improve the access of European investors to the Chinese market

Charles Michel, President of the European Council

Charles Michel, President of the European Council
REUTERS

After almost seven years of negotiations, the Unin Europea has closed this Wednesday a controversial investment agreement with China which aims to improve European investors’ access to the Chinese market, but which raises suspicions in the Biden administration even before taking possession.

An extraordinary summit by video call, on the verge of the end of the year, which brought together the Presidents of the Commission and the European Council, Ursula Von der Leyen and Charles Michel, with Xi Jinpin, in addition to French Emmanuel Macron and the chancellor Angela Merkel It has served to give the final push and close the deal. The role of the German, which has made relations with China one of its priorities during the rotating presidency of the Council, has been fundamental.

China is one of the Union’s largest trading partners. According to Eurostat, the EU exported goods worth 198 billion euros to the country in 2019. In total, the commercial flow between the two exceeds 500 billion euros. The investment treaty delete barriers to investment in china for European companies in various sectors.

The Commission defends that the agreement achieves important advances in some of the most important friction points during the negotiation, such as access to the financial market for European companies, the level of transparency on the rules that regulate public companies or state aid. , in addition to issues related to intellectual property and the forced transfer of technologies.

Now, the twenty-seven will have to approve the text so that the ratification process can begin, which passes through the favorable vote of the European Parliament and, potentially, of the national houses of representatives. At the moment, there is some unrest among some member states.

The suspicions of the USA

Throughout the negotiation, hea Eurocmara has insisted on the need to ensure respect for the regime’s human rights as a basis for closing the deal. The EU has hardened its language on China by condemning the violence in Hong Kong or the repression against the Uyghur minority in recent months, but the agreement falls far short of the expectations of the European Chamber.

The furthest the text goes is to demand that the Chinese administration implement the conventions on labor rights that it has already signed in the context of the World Labor Organization and make “sustained and continued efforts” to ratify those it has pending. , especially the one related to the prohibition of forced labor. The EU has included similar clauses in agreements with other countries with much less political and economic power, like Vietnam, with little success.

For some member states, the accelerator has been put in to close an agreement that should have been consulted with the Biden administration, even having waited for the inauguration of the newly elected president of the United States. For others, there are not enough safeguards for the protection of human rights.

At the announcement of the imminent agreement just a few days ago, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s Security Advisor, said on Twitter that the shadow administration would appreciate if the European partners would consult with them “on possible shared misgivings about China’s economic practices.” It does not appear to have been the case.

The leaders of the 27 and China should have met this year during a summit in September in Germany that had to be canceled due to the health situation as a result of the pandemic. That summit remained in videoconference, but it laid the foundations of an agreement that in 2019 the leaders promised to close this year.

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