January 10, 2018 / 7:07 AM / 3 months ago

EU hopes for 'decisive' talks on China investment pact this year

BEIJING (Reuters) - The European Union hopes negotiations on an investment pact with China will reach a “decisive stage” this year, the EU’s ambassador to China said, calling on Beijing to meet pledges of making its economy open to the world.

FILE PHOTO: Flags of European Union and China are pictured during the China-EU summit at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

“Moving to a decisive stage of negotiations on our Comprehensive Agreement on Investment would be a clear signal that China can deliver on its promises,” Hans Dietmar Schweisgut said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

He added that investor protection and reciprocal full market access would best ensure the European market “is not just open, but also continues to be open in the future”.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China has said its member companies are suffering “promise fatigue” and Schweisgut said businesses have been left disappointed by the slow pace at which China had implemented economic reforms.

“There is a gap between the rhetoric and what China is willing to do domestically,” he said.

Beijing and Brussels agreed in 2013 to negotiate an investment pact to make it easier for European businesses to work in China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly extolled the virtues of free and open trade to international audiences, most notably at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, but foreign business groups in China criticise Beijing for not matching Xi’s anti-protectionism messages with reforms at home.

Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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