(Yicai Global) March 8 -- It would be preferable to conclude a successfully completed and ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment by the end of this year, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (European Chamber) said in a recent report.
Both China and Europe should support free trade and contribute to the establishment of new international investment guidelines, the European Chamber said in its report titled 'China Manufacturing 2025: Putting Industrial Policy Ahead of Market Forces.'
A backlash against free trade and globalization has currently strained the benefits that Europe and China both gain from the trade order, the report states. As anti-free-trade politicians have gained ground in multiple countries around the world, some point to China as a cause of the problems facing their national economies.
For proponents of free trade in EU Member States to be able to identify significant benefits that their societies gain from trade relations with China -- both in terms of citizens' career opportunities and their role as consumers -- is therefore important, the report advises. China may also allow greater market access to foreign companies and investors.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said earlier that the EU is ready to join China in promoting global trade. However, she has repeatedly warned that a pre-condition for cooperation is fair trade.
Malmström added that barriers remain to EU-China trade and economic relations are far from balanced. Michael Clauss, German ambassador to China, also said in an interview on March 6 that the US, Japan and European countries all believe protectionist tendencies are growing in China.
The essence of China's economic and trade cooperation with other countries, including Germany, is mutual benefit and win-win, China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing yesterday. Positive progress has been made in China-Germany trade cooperation in recent years, and this has brought real benefits to the businesses and people of the two countries and contributed to their respective economic development. Per German statistics, China became its largest trade partner for the first time last year. "I do not know how the German ambassador draws his conclusion and what the basis of his conclusion is."
EU data shows trade with China as worth one-fifth of EU imported goods, but only one-tenth of its goods exports. Chinese investment in the EU rose to a record high of almost EUR40 billion last year, while EU investment in China fell to less than EUR8 billion. Malmström also said she hopes the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment can address the latter issue, and she wishes for a 'new impulse' in talks this year.
Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU's ambassador to China, also said at his first press conference this year that the EU will work to push negotiations over bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with China this year.
The European Chamber said one of the most important steps that the Chinese and European authorities can take in this respect is a robust market opening, in part through a successfully-completed and ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. It would be preferable to conclude such an agreement by the end of 2017.
On the establishment of new international investment guidelines, the European Chamber said both China and the EU have an opportunity to take the lead in developing new international investment guidelines that ensure the legitimate interests of all countries receive due regard.