EU-China funding deal seemingly this week – senior EU official


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A staff member walks past the EU and China flags before the EU-China High Level Economic Dialogue takes place in Beijing

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – China and the European Union are likely to sign an investment deal this week that would give EU companies much better access to the Chinese market and protect their assets there, a senior EU official said on Monday.

However, talks about the deal, which began in 2014, stalled for years as the EU complained that despite its promise to open the world's second largest economy, China failed to deliver on its pledges to lift the containment of EU investment.

But tensions in trade relations between the United States and China may have helped change China's position and bring about an agreement between Beijing and Brussels, the official said.

"The deal could be closed as early as this week," the official said, adding that the agreement, which could be reached during a video conference on Wednesday, would be translated into legal text over several months.

"We will have much better market access and protection of our investments in China. We have been working towards better market access for many years and the Chinese have made a pretty big step towards us," the official said

The negotiations were led by the European Commission, which handles all foreign trade issues for the 27-nation bloc.

"The Commission has almost completed negotiations, which have been quite successful, particularly on some difficult issues such as labor rights," said the official.

Ambassadors of the EU governments in Brussels discussed the investment agreement on Monday, and no country has had major problems with it.

Officials said Poland suggested the EU should wait to discuss the deal with President-elect Joe Biden's new administration, but other countries disagreed.

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Steven Gregory