China, EU Speed Up Talks to Reach Investment Deal, Xinhua Says

China and the European Union will step up efforts to reach an investment deal this year, the official Chinese news service Xinhua reported, underscoring the importance both sides attach to their financial relationship.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined EU summit chair Charles Michel and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in a video conference on Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with participants agreeing to accelerate the negotiations in a bid to meet their 2020 deadline, Xinhua said.

The European side has said Beijing must follow up recent offers to pursue fairer economic policies with more concessions in order for an investment deal by year-end to be achieved.

An EU official only confirmed that President Xi said that concluding the accord by the end of the year would send an important message to the world. But the EU has previously asked for more concessions before such a deal is concluded.

The EU and China have been in negotiations since 2013 on a bilateral pact that would reduce Chinese restrictions on European companies. InApril last year, the EU and China set a target date of end-2020 for reaching an “ambitious” investment deal.

EU-China relations have been strained this year by alleged Chinese disinformation about the coronavirus, by Beijing’s controversial national-security law for Hong Kong and by stepped-up European efforts to protect domestic manufacturers from foreign competitors.

Still, the bloc is keen to show economic rewards from a policy approach toward China that is less confrontational than that pursued by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

The EU argues that the global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus strengthens the case for an accord that would open the Chinese market more to foreign investors.

— With assistance by Nikos Chrysoloras

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