China’s think tank refutes report that canceled talks with Europe business association cast shadows on BIT

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/11 11:10:57

Photo: Xinhua

Deputy Director of China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) Wei Jianguo on Friday refuted Bloomberg's report saying that scrapped talks between the think tank and European business association BusinessEurope "cast shadow" over planned China-EU investment deal.

"Our meeting with BusinessEurope, also known as second track dialogue, [has been happening] for several years and have gone very well. We are not clear yet why the European business association abruptly canceled the meeting," Wei told the Global Times on Friday.

Bloomberg reported that the incident that happened last month casts a shadow on the ongoing bilateral investment treatment (BIT) agreement talks between China and the EU, as the two sides aim to achieve the goal of closing the BIT talks by the end of 2020.

"BusinessEurope's cancelation of the meeting with us will not have any negative impact on the China-EU BIT talks," Wei said, noting that CCIEE, the Chinese think tank, as a non-governmental organization, neither represents the Chinese authorities nor takes part in the BIT talks.

Wei said the annual meeting between BusinessEurope and the CCIEE - held every year either in Brussels or Beijing - alternates between China and Europe and is aimed at advancing the development of China-EU economic and trade relations, while ironing out differences.

"The CCIEE always holds confidence in China-EU BIT talks," he said, pointing out that the two sides should erase differences in a bid to reach BIT agreement as early as possible.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the cancellation of a meeting between two non-government organizations in China and the EU will have no impact on bilateral investment treaty talks. 

The two sides are trying to close the BIT talks by the end of the year, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Friday.

China and the EU are holding the 35th round of talks over BIT this week which is the 10th round within the year, and both sides are eyeing the solutions to leftover problems so as to realize the goals set by leaders of both sides, China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said on Thursday.

Last week, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke with Executive Vice President of the European Commission for An Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis, and the two sides had "constructive communication" over the talks for the BIT, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone, expressing hope that the agreement could be reached as soon as possible.

Before the phone call with Macron, Xi also had a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on November 24 on the deal and strengthening bilateral cooperation. 

This sent a strong signal that the two sides are pushing to wrap up negotiations for a sweeping BIT before the end of this year, as planned, and before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office in January.

With three weeks to go, it's highly possible that China and the EU could reach an agreement by December 31, Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.

It's normal even if there is some delay to the BIT talks because the high-level deal is of crucial meaning to both sides' interests and demands, Zhao said, noting that the trend of increasing China-EU cooperation is ensured due to great mutual benefits.

"The agreement will play a significant role in boosting the prosperity and recovery of Asia and Europe economy as well as in preventing a trade war like what's happening between China and the US," he said, noting that the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership sets an example for BIT talks.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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