Saturday

21st Oct 2017

Focus

EU businesses urge China to deliver on trade and access

  • EU companies say their local Chinese counterparts are treated much better.

A top European business lobby group called on Chinese leaders to follow through on public commitments to free trade and globalisation, including reciprocal access to China's market for trade and investment.

In a new position paper, published on Tuesday (19 September), the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China says European businesses are suffering from "promise fatigue" because several assurances by China were never met in recent years.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

China's ruling elite will hold a congress that kicks off on 18 October, and European companies hope the new leadership emerging from the meeting under Chinese president Xi Jinping will deliver on earlier anti-protectionist messages.

In January, Xi Jinping delivered a speech in Davos, Switzerland, in defence of globalisation and free trade, against the backdrop of US president Donald Trump's "America first" policy.

"We hope that the new line-up after the 19th Party Congress will show that there are people in place that are committed to further opening up," European Union Chamber of Commerce in China president Mats Harborn told reporters.

"If you ask our member companies […] they are not very optimistic that these changes will happen," Harborn was quoted by Reuters as saying.

New restrictions on food imports, starting from 1 October, also concern the lobby group, which argues the new rules impede trade.

AFP reported that, in recent weeks, Chinese officials barred the import of certain mould-ripened cheeses with little explanation.

European businesses are also calling for an end to foreign investment restrictions.

The paper cites the pharmaceuticals industry as one sector where progress has been made in opening up to foreigners.

But Chinese rules force European firms to partner with local firms and often to share crucial technology, whereas Chinese companies in Europe have no such restrictions.

Harborn said China's investment climate is "too complex, unpredictable and opaque to attract foreign capital".

He cited figures that said Chinese investments in Europe rose by 77 percent last year, while EU investments in China fell by a quarter.

The chamber's report states that 54 percent of European companies perceive that they are being treated less favourably in comparison with their Chinese counterparts.

Yet, if greater market access were granted, 56 percent of European firms would be more likely to increase their investments.

"But the Chinese authorities continue to ring-fence foreign investment with administrative measures," the 400-page report claimed.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang responded at a press briefing on Tuesday, saying that "China firmly supports an open world economy and improves its business environment."

"We are the advocate, contributor and architect of the multilateral trade regime," the official was quoted as saying by AFP.

The European Commission last week proposed an EU-wide screening mechanism on foreign investments and the acquisition of sensitive European technology, or strategic assets.

Germany, France and Italy were quick to support the proposal last week, but Finland and other EU countries have also voiced concerns, fearing that it is going to be seen as a protectionist move.

EU preparing to screen Chinese investments

The EU is to screen foreign investments to avoid takeovers in sensitive sectors. But the plan, mainly aimed at China, will raise political and technical difficulties.

EU commission changes gear on trade

The EU executive seeks new deals with Australia and New Zealand, while aiming to overhaul the global investment protection system. It also wants to screen foreign investments.

Analysis

Trump is 'gift' for China's EU agenda

The more harm Trump does to trans-Atlantic ties, the better for China's global interests, the author of a new study on Sino-European relations has said.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks