BONN, Germany Feb 16 Germany wants China to
create a fairer business environment for foreign companies,
especially German carmakers seeking to tap into Beijing's drive
for greener cars, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told his
Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday.
German companies have long complained of obstacles to
investment and acquiring local firms in China, where the
government plays a more interventionist role.
Their concerns have acquired greater urgency with the advent
of a more protectionist administration in the United States and
Britain's plans to exit the European Union, both issues that
could harm German and wider EU commercial interests.
"China has again promised that it wants to proceed on the
path of market liberalisation and reforms," Gabriel said after
talks with Wang in Bonn, where foreign ministers from the G20
top economies are meeting.
"I have as such urged minister Wang that China reinforce
that, with clear signals of equal treatment for foreign
companies in China, for example in the field of electric
mobility," Gabriel said.
China surpassed the United States last year to become the
largest maker of pure electric cars thanks to a raft of
government incentives to promote the switch from petrol to
electricity as the country battles heavy pollution.
Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrids increased 60
percent in January-November, to 402,000 vehicles. By 2020, China
wants 5 million plug-in cars on its roads.
In September, Volkswagen AG signed a deal with
China's Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC Motor) to
explore making electric vehicles in a new joint venture.
Despite disagreements with China over obstacles to foreign
investment, its massive steel exports and other issues, the
European Union increasingly sees Beijing as a crucial ally on
global free trade in the face of protectionist pressures from
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.
On Wednesday Reuters exclusively reported that the EU, in
which Germany is the largest economy, was preparing an early
summit with China in April or May in Brussels to promote free
trade and international cooperation.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Andrea Shalal; writing by
Joseph Nasr; Editing by Gareth Jones)