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.
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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid