China, EU still making preparations for investment deal despite hurdles
Published: Jul 08, 2021 08:03 PM
Gao Feng, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce, at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday Photo: Li Qiaoyi/GT

Gao Feng, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce, at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday Photo: Li Qiaoyi/GT

China and the EU were undertaking legal reviews, translation and other technical preparations for the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday.

Analysts noted that the comment is the first indication that the deal is still moving forward since the EU froze its ratification process in May.

Asked about the progress of the CAI at a regular press conference in Beijing, Gao Feng, a spokesperson for the MOFCOM, said that both sides were making those technical preparations. 

The CAI serves the common interests of both sides and will be beneficial to the global economy, said Gao.

"This message is an indication that although ratification of the CAI was frozen and disrupted, it hasn't been stopped," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

While the ratification procedure is stuck in the European Parliament, the transactional and technical work has not stopped, Cui noted.

During a virtual summit among Chinese, French and German leaders on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed support for the CAI and cooperation in other areas, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

As the EU is divided over the CAI, "sending a signal supporting the CAI is also intended to reassure those who support the agreement within the EU, especially business representatives," said Cui.

Relations between China and Europe have been rocky in recent months, with intensifying US interference. In May, the European Parliament voted to freeze the CAI, thus blocking the ratification of the deal, the hard-won result of seven years of negotiations. 

Commenting on the EU's freezing of the ratification process in May, Gao said that the agreement is mutually beneficial and freezing its ratification does not serve the common interests of the two sides. 

Analysts also said that both sides should push for the deal's implementation and expand cooperation despite differences and pressure from the US.

The EU is still a very important market for China, and European companies also want to reap the benefits of China's economic development, Song Wei, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Despite the impact of COVID-19 and the adverse political environment, China and the EU should continue to promote the completion of the investment agreement from the perspective of economic complementarity and the needs of the two sides," said Song.