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China tells Brussels to 'remove barriers' on trade, investment

Publication Date : 29-06-2012

 

Beijing has urged Brussels to remove trade and investment barriers and allow Chinese businesses to help Europe stimulate jobs and growth.

The message from Beijing emerged as European leaders gathered for a crucial two-day summit with deep divisions over imposing more austerity or putting the onus on growth.

Sun Yongfu, director of the Department of European Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce said at a forum in Beijing yesterday that Chinese investors still face difficulty obtaining European work permits and visas.

"I hope the European Union makes its investment environment more transparent and removes barriers," Sun said.

"The economies of China and the EU [European Union] are complementary, especially when the bloc is haunted by the debt crisis. Chinese companies have abundant capital and can invest in the EU while EU companies can benefit from China's huge domestic market," Sun said.

He also said China and the EU are still in talks over negotiations on an investment treaty.

Sources from the European Commission said last week that Chinese investment is welcomed but they must show that they comply with European laws and practices.

Analysts said that this meant, in reality, that the EU could erect barriers when necessary to block Chinese investment.

A number of specialists from various think tanks have visited Europe to see just how greater Chinese investment can be made.

Wang Tianlong, a researcher from the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, helped compile a comparison report on Chinese investment in the United States and Germany. The report was jointly compiled with Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German think tank.

Wang urged officials and entrepreneurs in the three countries to promote an "accurate public image" of the benefits of Chinese investment while US and German leaders should send a strong welcoming signal to Chinese investors.

A resolution adopted by the European Parliament in May, called for tighter controls on Chinese investment.

A press release from the parliament expressed the determination of some of its members to "protect European businesses" against "unfair competition" from China.

In response to the resolution, Bertelsmann Stiftung said in its June Asia policy brief that the resolution risks endorsing protectionism.

Chinese investment in the EU tripled from 2006 to 2009 and reached US$10 billion in 2011. The number of deals valued at more than $1 million hit almost 100 in 2010 and 2011, according to a report from Rhodium Group.

Chinese investment in the EU in 2012 will suffer from uncertainties over the debt crisis, especially in the second half of the year, according to Chen Jiangang, managing director of the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) advisory practice, InterChina.

But next year will see growth in Chinese investment as the crisis lessens and investment opportunities become clearer, Chen said.

Markus Ederer, the EU ambassador to China, said that the bloc is attractive to Chinese investors with a market of 500 million consumers, a highly educated labour force and the most innovative economy in the world.

"We would like to transform the world's strongest trade relationship, between the EU and China, into a powerful mutual investment relationship and allow each other to enter markets freely," Ederer said.

Chen advised Chinese investors to choose small, solid companies when carrying out mergers and acquisitions in the EU.

Tan Xuan contributed to this story.

 

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