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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid