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China, EU Start Negotiations to Boost 'Low' Investment Flows

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, left, speaks next to Chairman of the China International Trade Promotion Committee Wan Jifei, second left, during the 9th EU-China Business Summit, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 21, 2013.
Chinese and European Union leaders have launched negotiations aimed at boosting the relatively small investment flows between the two major trading partners.

Speaking Thursday at a one-day summit in Beijing, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said China-EU investment flows "are far too low" given the integration between their economies. He said they can increase two-way investment by agreeing on protections for investors.

The European Union wants the Chinese government to provide legal guarantees to European firms investing in China. It also wants to boost EU investors' access to the Chinese market.

China-EU trade has been booming for years. The 28-nation European Union is China's biggest trading partner, while China is the second largest for the European Union, after the United States.

Chines Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing wants to increase total trade with the European Union to $1 trillion by the year 2020. Mr. Li urged the 28-nation bloc to increase exports of high-tech products to China to help achieve that goal.

Van Rompuy said both sides should provide each other with a level playing field, transparency and confidence in the rule of law.

He said those principles are "essential" for business to thrive.

Closer economic ties also have led to several Chinese-EU disputes about alleged unfair trade practices in the steel, wine and solar panel industries.

At the summit, Chinese and EU officials also agreed to cooperate on urbanization. China is seeking European Union advice on how to deal with the challenge of rural residents increasingly moving to Chinese cities in search of a better life.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.