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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid