China will carry out bilateral investment agreement negotiations with EU at its own pace: MOFCOM

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/24 21:54:38

China EU Photo:VCG

As more hurdles are reportedly emerging amid the ongoing negotiations on a China-EU bilateral investment treaty (BIT), also called Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), and concerns arising whether the pact could be inked by the year end, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said late Thursday that China will carry out negotiations at its own pace while striving to reach a comprehensive, balanced and high-level BIT with EU.

China will be committed to promoting high-level opening-up and will conduct negotiations based on its own pace and on the basis of protecting its security and development interests, the MOFCOM said.

Reaching an agreement needs the joint efforts of both sides which try to meet each other half way.

The BIT between China and Europe will not only help deepen bilateral trade and investment cooperation but will also be of great significance for global economic recovery, the ministry said.

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, told a routine press briefing on Thursday, “As far as I know, the BIT negotiations are currently proceeding smoothly.”

China is not in a rush to ink the BIT with the European side amid an increasingly politicized environment in the bloc, which may stir up tensions and prompt the latter to up the price on the negotiating table, or may even deliberately delay the schedule, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“The previous timetable to have a deal before the year-end just sets a course. China has the determination but is not blinded by the deadline. Both sides need to make concessions to make the deal inked,” Cui noted.

There is a chance that the BIT could be reached before China’s Spring Festival holidays, which fall in mid-February this year, if Europe could soften its stance, analysts said.

Also, if EU-China leaders’ meeting could resume next year, it is highly likely that the deal could be signed at that time, if not earlier, according to Cui.

China’s Foreign Ministry refuted media reports claiming that Chinese demands on nuclear power investment are complicating EU talks, dismissing the reports as “fake news.”
The China-EU BIT will be a mutually beneficial agreement conducive to promoting China-EU trade liberalization and investment facilitation.

The agreement will take into account the concerns of both sides and promote the sound and stable development of China-EU economic and trade relations, Wang said.

The remarks followed a report published by German media outlet WirtschaftsWoche Wednesday which claimed negotiations between the EU and China concerning the BIT have stalled at the last stretch due to China raising additional demands on nuclear energy.

Another reported sticking point is EU attitudes toward Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with some EU members falsely claiming China is engaged in the so-called forced labor, which presents an obstacle to progress on the BIT.

Analysts noted that one of the biggest hurdles stem from the EU’s alleged forced labor issue in Xinjiang, which Brussels has been badmouthing Beijing in recent months.

The so-called forced labor is false, and the Chinese government has been consistently opposed to forced labor, Wang said in response to France’s opposition to the EU-China deal over the alleged abuse of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The spokesperson said that this kind of baseless rumor mongering should be condemned and those responsible should be held accountable.  

Chinese officials have reiterated the country’s hope to conclude the negotiations within this year. The BIT talks, which started in 2013, are among China’s most important trade and economic negotiations.

Global Times


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