Beijing, Brussels move toward investment talks

Updated: 2013-10-18 23:56

By Fu Jing in Brussels (China Daily)

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China and the European Commission are expected to launch negotiations on a long-awaited pact on investment at the November leaders' summit.

The commission received authorization for the talks from European Union member states on Friday, ahead of the scheduled bilateral economic and trade talks between Vice-Premier Ma Kai and his European counterparts in Brussels next week.

Analysts say Brussels' recent decisions will help bring bilateral high-level dialogue back on track after they were affected by the commission's decision to levy high anti-dumping and subsidy tariffs against China's solar panel exports.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership. Both sides expect increased cooperation in the coming decade.

In the negotiation process, Brussels said it wants to lower investment barriers and gain more protection for its investments in China. It also hopes to assure the legality of its investors and simplify the procedures of market access.

"All in all, we want to increase the investment volume in each other's markets," the European Commission said on Friday.

So far, Beijing has not specified goals of the talks, although officials told China Daily that preparations have been made to start the negotiation process.

Both sides decided to speed up preparations for negotiations two years ago. It is likely a joint announcement will be made concerning free trade negotiations once the investment talks start next month.

China has made investment protection agreements with most EU member states, but the new EU treaty has entrusted the European Commission to negotiate unified agreements on investment and trade with partners outside the EU.

"The European Union needs such an investment pact with China to gain more market access," said David Laurier, CEO of AppliTek in Belgium. "But what's important is that this ambitious agreement will set very clear rules for both sides. Then we can grow together in a transparent way and play the game with the agreed rules."

Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, said a new investment treaty should establish good investment protection provisions for investors both in China and in Europe.

"I would ideally like to see the agreement to have a market access reform, meaning new markets should be opened for investors and different restrictions existing in the investment system today would be taken away," said Erixon.

Li Xiaofei in Brussels contributed to this story.