The European Union and China approved, on Wednesday, an investment agreement that guarantees European companies greater access to Chinese markets, and helps reset what Europe views as imbalanced economic relations.
The agreement took about 7 years to be prepared, and it is likely that it will take another year to enter into force. It forms part of the European Union relationship New China with China, which he considers a partner but at the same time sees it as a competitor.
Among the companies that could benefit are Daimler, BMW, Peugeot, Allianz, and Siemens. They all have a large presence in China.
China will ban forced transfer of technology from foreign companies, pledging more transparency on subsidies and preventing discrimination for state-owned companies at the expense of foreign investors.
The agreement was concluded after an online meeting attended by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Chinese President Xi Jinping, European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The agreement highlights China’s determination and confidence in the openness of its economy, Xi said, adding that the agreement will stimulate the global economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as enhancing mutual trust.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the agreement as a milestone in the EU’s relationship with China.
“The European Union has the largest single market in the world. We are open to work, but we are committed to reciprocity, equal opportunities and values,” she said.
“The European Union and China concluded today preliminary negotiations on an investment agreement,” she said.
The negotiations began in November 2013, during a visit by Herman Van Rompuy, then president of the European Commission, to Beijing, in a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Since then, 35 negotiation sessions have been held, including 10 in 2020.
The balance of European investments (excluding the United Kingdom) in China is approximately 150 billion euros, while that of China in the European Union amounts to 113 billion euros.
The European Union has long been the largest trading partner of China, which in the third quarter also became the largest partner of the European Union, ahead of the United States, according to European media.