June 23, 2020 / 7:46 AM / 10 days ago

EU business body fears China-EU investment deal will not be finished this year

BEIJING (Reuters) - The president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said on Tuesday that he doubts a long-awaited China-EU investment agreement will be finished this year.

FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Joerg Wuttke told reporters during a briefing that he was disappointed the latest high-level EU-China meetings, which were held on Monday, did not lead to a joint communique, adding that he was concerned China is drifting towards isolation.

“The fact that both parties didn’t feel like reporting what has been agreed upon is an indicator that there was very little to agree upon,” said Wuttke.

“I don’t see any conclusion this year.”

The 27-nation EU and China have both said they hope to conclude negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment in 2020, after six years of talks.

EU officials say they want to see movement in areas such as autos, biotech and micro-electronics and see Beijing limit subsidies for state-run companies.

Meeting halfway with Chinese negotiators is impossible as Europe is already far more open than China, said Wuttke.

Speaking after video calls with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Chinese needed to be more ambitious.

She also warned of “very negative consequences” if Beijing goes ahead with a new security law on Hong Kong that the West says will curtail basic rights.

Premier Li said on Monday that cooperation with the European Union outweighs competition, and China hopes the EU could relax export control measures against China.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Catherine Evans

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