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2020-09-10 | All chapters

European Chamber Stresses Urgency for Reform, Calls for Bold Commitments on EU-China Investment Agreement by Year’s End

Beijing, China, 10th September 2020 - The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China today released its European Business in China – Position Paper 2020/2021 (Position Paper). This annual publication delivers to the Chinese Government over 800 detailed recommendations for improving the business environment, spread across 34 industry sectors and horizontal issues. The Position Paper details how persistent issues, such as limited market access and a complex regulatory environment, prevent European businesses from contributing fully to China’s sustainable development.

This significant amount of untapped market potential could help to not only boost economic growth, but also stave off serious problems that have for some time threatened China’s development, like its burgeoning debt situation and rapidly ageing population. While the European Chamber has been advocating for increased market access and a level playing field for its members for the past two decades, it is now critical for China to enact meaningful reforms due to the economic devastation wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming threat of decoupling.

Although European companies remain committed to the market, a number of ‘dichotomies’ that have emerged in recent years raise questions over which direction China will eventually decide to move in:

  • The ‘one economy, two systems’ model, which divides the private and state-owned economies
  • The country’s economic potential versus its market access regime
  • The persistent divide between China’s rhetoric and the reality on the ground
  • The clash of China’s charm offensive towards European business and its ‘wolf warriors’ in Europe

These issues are further compounded by the increased politicisation of doing business in China. This is a serious factor that threatens business operations in ways that companies can neither predict nor control. European leaders currently still have the appetite for engagement, but public opinion in the Old Continent is souring on China: voters are voicing their concerns over the unbalanced economic relationship, allegations of forced labour in Xinjiang and the autonomy of Hong Kong. These issues present a real challenge for the EU and China to find an effective way forward before the window of opportunity closes.

It is therefore imperative that the EU and China strive for a political agreement on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) by the end of 2020. A half-baked deal that leaves the most critical issues unaddressed would be unwelcome and futile. Instead, it must deliver tangible results and secure open and fair markets on both sides to bolster the relationship and lay the groundwork for further productive engagement.

“Having inked bold economic agreements with numerous diverse partners in recent years, it is not revolutionary that the EU should expect a market that is as open and fair as its own when entering into such an agreement with China,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “After more than 30 painful rounds of CAI negotiations, there’s a real sense that this is now or never.”

Please click here to download the report.

About the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (European Chamber) was founded in 2000 by 51 member companies that shared a goal of establishing a common voice for the various business sectors of the European Union and European businesses operating in China. It is a members-driven, non-profit, fee-based organisation with a core structure of 34 working groups and fora representing European business in China. The European Chamber is recognised by the European Commission and the Chinese authorities as the official voice of European business in China.

 

中国欧盟商会发布年度建议书强调改革的紧迫性,呼吁在年底前对中欧《全面投资协定》的达成作出大胆承诺

北京, 中国, 2020910- 中国欧盟商会于今日正式发布了年度出版物—《欧盟企业在中国建议书2020/2021》(下文简称“《建议书》”)。《建议书》向中国政府提出了800余项有关改善营商环境的详细建议。建议不仅包括来自在华欧洲企业所涉及的34个不同行业的内容,也涵盖了跨行业的普遍性问题。与此同时,《建议书》就营商环境中长期存在的问题,如受到限制的市场准入和复杂的监管环境,是如何影响在华欧企为中国可持续发展做出全面贡献,作出了详细的分析。

充分发挥巨大市场潜力不仅能推动中国经济的持续增长,也可有效规避那些威胁中国发展的问题,例如债务的增长和老龄化的加速。过去的二十年里,中国欧盟商会一直致力于推动市场准入的改善和为欧洲在华企业争取公平的竞争环境;当前,伴随着新冠疫情的蔓延和国际经济脱钩的威胁,在中国推动有意义的改革实践则更为关键。

尽管欧洲在华企业仍然致力于中国市场,但近年来出现的许多“二分法”引起了人们对中国最终决定朝哪个方向发展的困惑:

  • 一种经济,两种模式:将私营经济和国有经济划分开来
  • 巨大的经济发展潜力与受限的市场准入的矛盾
  • 政府对经济发展的承诺与政策现实之间的落差
  • 中国对欧洲企业的吸引力和其在欧洲的“战狼”外交所产生的冲突

业务运营政治化放大了上述问题所带来的消极影响。企业无法预测或者控制政治因子,这给企业经营带来了相当消极的影响。欧洲国家的领导人仍愿意与中国加深合作,然而当地的大众舆论却背道而驰:选民们纷纷表达了对不平衡的双边经济关系,以及在新疆、香港问题上的担忧。本身合作就前途未卜,这些问题又对寻求合作的中欧提出新的挑战。

因此,当下最为关键的就在于:欧盟和中国必须在2020年底之前推动《中欧全面投资协定》全面达成。一个未能解决关键问题的、不成熟的协定将是徒劳且不受欢迎的。谈判和协议必须取得切实的成果,双方市场需要都确保公平公开,从而为双边关系发展和未来的高效合作奠定基础。

“近年来,欧盟曾与许多国家签署了多样的经济和贸易协定,因此,完成中欧投资协定并期待中国成为像欧盟一样开放和公平的市场并不是天方夜谭。”中国欧盟商会主席伍德克表示, “经过了三十余轮痛苦、漫长的《全面投资协定》谈判,现在是最后的机会了。”

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关于中国欧盟商会

中国欧盟商会由51家会员企业于2000年成立,是一个在会员指导下开展工作的、独立的非营利性机构,其核心结构是代表欧盟在华企业的34个工作组和论坛。会员总数如今已突破1700家,在中国九个城市设有七个地方分会。其理念是应欧盟及欧盟企业的需要,代表不同行业寻求统一的声音。中国欧盟商会已被欧盟委员会与中国政府机构认可为欧盟企业在华的独立官方代言机构,旨在为欧盟企业争取更大的市场准入和更好的经营环境。

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Yichi Zhang

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