EU-China: reinforcing ties

The 21st summit in Brussels discussed trade, investment

Photo: EPA (L-R) EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and President of the EU Council Donald Tusk attend a signature ceremony between EU and China at the European Council in Brussels

European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, met on 9 April in Brussels for the 21st EU-China Summit to add new dynamics for reinforcing the cooperation between the two parties. The EU is China's largest trading partner and China is the EU's second largest.

The leaders addressed the most pressing issues in EU-China bilateral relations, such as on the trade and investment agenda, the negotiations towards a Comprehensive Investment Agreement and an agreement on Geographical Indications. They also touched upon global challenges and governance, such as cooperation on multilateralism, including through reform of the World Trade Organisation, tackling climate change, and increasing sustainable connectivity, as well as common foreign policy priorities such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Iran nuclear deal, and Afghanistan. The EU foreign policy chief and Commission's Vice-President Federica Mogherini and European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen also took part at this high profile forum.

In a joint statement, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to deepening their partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilisation based on the principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual benefit, by comprehensively implementing the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. The EU and China commit to strengthen cooperation, notably in the framework of their ongoing bilateral Dialogues. Both sides welcome the recently held High-Level Strategic Dialogue. In order to further expand and deepen exchanges and cooperation beyond 2020, the EU and China will adopt a new cooperation agenda by the next EU-China Summit.

The two sides also reaffirmed their joint commitment to cooperate on WTO reform and will intensify the discussions with the aim of strengthening international rules on industrial subsidies. Saying that it is a breakthrough, President Tusk underlined that for the first time, China has agreed to engage with Europe on this key priority for WTO reform.

"We hope that these talks will progress speedily in view of the G20 summit in Osaka, so that we can defend the rules-based international trading system", he stated.

Our partnership with China for us is a priority - and it needs a comprehensive approach to match, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker pointed out after the summit, adding that this was the reason the Commission recently published its strategic outlook on China with 10 actions for the future.

“I also welcome the explicit agreement that there should be no forced transfer of technologies as a price for investment,” the EC President also said.

Emphasising that “our cooperation simply makes sense for both sides,” he highlighted the need to find a better balance and level of reciprocity.

“Europe wants to trade more and invest more in China but we need rules that allow us to do so.”

He aso praised the agreement for setting up a “process to allow us to identify and remove barriers to market access” with the clear target to take stock of progress at the next EU-China Summit.

Talking about Beijing's commitment to welcoming the investments from EU and other countries to China, Premier Li Keqiang specified that his state is ready to foster more enabling business environment.

“We both believe that we need to accelerate our negotiation on the China-EU Investment Treaty, forge to secure decisive progress by the end of this year, setting the stage for us to sign the high-level agreement between China and EU by the end of next year,” he outlined, explaining that it treats businesses from both sides as equals and helps the two sides to open further to each other.

Among the scores of concrete deliverables agreed at the summit is a Memorandum of Understanding on a dialogue in the area of the state aid control regime and the Fair Competition Review System and a Joint Statement on the Implementation of the EU-China Cooperation on Energy. Important agreements, on the Terms of References of the EU-China Competition Policy Dialogue and for a Joint Study to identify the most sustainable railways-based transport corridors between Europe and China, were also sealed.

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