Mutually beneficial China-EU investment deal won’t fall apart
Published: Mar 30, 2021 08:43 PM
China-EU-US Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China-EU-US Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The European Parliament recently canceled a review meeting for the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), raising deep concerns among the business community. Questions were raised about whether the deal could be eventually passed at a time when the US, the EU, Japan and Australia appear to be joining hands to contain China. 

Will the historical deal come to an end just like that, after 35 rounds of negotiations over 7 years? The answer, in my opinion, is no.

For starters, the timely completion of negotiations for the agreement was jointly announced by Chinese and European leaders. It is the result of cooperation between China and the EU to further strengthen bilateral investment and trade, and to oppose US' hegemony and unilateralism. 

There is also an element of national credibility attached to the agreement. If the European side stops reviewing the agreement, its credibility will be severely damaged. Will the EU renege on its word and simply tear up an agreement like former US President Donald Trump did? It's hardly possible.

By releasing information about the cancelled meeting, the EU was just putting on a show for the US. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid visits to Europe and wanted to rally Europe against China. Such an intention is crystal clear among European countries. However, recklessly leaning toward the US would ultimately hurt them.

Will the EU stop continuing on that wrong course? I think the EU will not go too far, because tying itself to the US chariot and eventually become a pawn for Washington is not what European countries want. By canceling one review meeting, the EU is making a show for the US and also using the CAI as a bargaining chip against the US.

Meanwhile, the colossal Chinese market is an attractive prize for European investors, and Chinese investors have high expectations for the European market as well. Europe will see growing dependency on China, which has already become its largest trading partner, while China's dependency on Europe will keep decreasing. 

Under such circumstances, business communities from both sides have been expecting that the CAI could boost economic and trade exchanges between China and Europe, level up trade liberalization and investment facilitation, and explore new trading fields. It is believed that the business community will eventually stand up to the narrow-minded moves of the political class.

The CAI may need to go through some rounds of competition and wrestling, but the final adoption of the deal is an inevitable outcome, given the fact that it'll not only benefit China and Europe but also the entire world.

The article was compiled based on a commentary written by Wei Jianguo, former Chinese vice minister of commerce and executive deputy director of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.