Merkel urges China to treat foreign companies fairly

Photo: EPA Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting of the German government, Berlin, 12 June.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that Beijing needs to take action to open up its market and treat foreign companies fairly, her spokesman said on Thursday following a video conference, during which the two leaders discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“She highlighted the need for further steps on market access, reciprocity and equal treatment of foreign companies,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “Concluding an ambitious investment agreement between the EU and China is an important element in this process,” he added. Negotiations on an investment agreement have been underway for six years and should be concluded in 2020.

Merkel told Li that Germany, which takes over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency in July, wants rules-based and free multilateral trade plus a strengthened WTO, Seibert said.

With the COVID-19 crisis wreaking economic havoc, Germany is eager to reboot trade with China, its biggest trading partner. But German politicians and rights groups cautioned that boosting economic ties cannot come at the expense of human rights. Prior to the talks, Merkel faced pressure even from politicians within her own party to take a strong stance against China's clampdown on Hong Kong.


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