News / Europe

EU Trade Chief to Seek Investment Pact with China

FILE - European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht , March 25, 2013.
FILE - European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht , March 25, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— The European Commission will seek the support of EU governments to launch talks with China on an investment pact that could be a precursor to a free-trade deal if Brussels and Beijing can overcome growing tensions.
 
EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said on Thursday he would ask the European Union's 27 countries to agree on a negotiating mandate for a deal with China that would reduce barriers to each other's markets and encourage new capital flows.
 
Documents seen by Reuters this week show that a much more ambitious free trade agreement could be considered after an investment pact - but only if China and the European Union can work out their differences.
 
“From the EU side, we want this investment agreement and we want to see this as a first step, and once this is successful we are ready to consider further options,” said an EU official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
 
The European Union wants to deepen ties with China, its second-largest trading partner, to help it emerge from economic crisis. But the bloc is concerned by what it sees as China's state capitalism, accusing Beijing of flooding domestic industry with cheap credit to undercut European rivals.
 
Trade friction has increased since Brussels said this month it is preparing to levy prohibitive duties on billions of euros' worth of solar panels from China.
 
De Gucht also publicly accused Chinese telecoms companies Huawei and ZTE of dumping products in Europe and has threatened to launch an investigation that could lead to duties on the two companies' equipment.
 
Brussels says an investment agreement could provide security for Chinese investors in Europe, which would replace national bilateral investment treaties with one EU treaty.
 
“In terms of market access, Chinese firms aren't going to be gaining very much, but you have to recall that at this time there are a lot of questions being asked about Chinese investments in a number of countries,” said the EU official.

Restrictive regime
 
China says solar panel duties would seriously harm trade ties, and Beijing is expected to decide in June whether to levy its own duties on imported European solar-grade polysilicon, a raw material used in solar panel production.
 
But De Gucht sees an potential investment pact with China as part of a wider strategy to force Beijing into line with international trade rules.
 
China has the most restrictive foreign investment regime in the Group of 20 major economies, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and requires EU companies to share their know-how with Chinese firms.
 
“The agreement needs to secure existing openness and deliver new liberalization of the conditions for accessing each other's investment market,” De Gucht said in a statement. “Crucially, it should improve the treatment of investors and their assets.”
 
Chinese direct investment could bring more than $250 billion in fresh capital to Europe this decade, according to a 2012 study by New York-based research company Rhodium Group.
 
The European Union is the world's top destination for foreign direct investment, attracting 225 billion euros ($290 billion) from the rest of the world in 2011, European Commission figures show.
 
There was no precise timeline for talks on the agreement, but EU officials said they normally aim to conclude negotiations on such agreements within two or three years. A negotiating brief could come this year.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid