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FTA Expects the EU-China Investment Talks to Be a Priority in Europe’s Trade Policy


28 Mar 2014


Trade & Society
Brussels Friday 28 March 2014

The Foreign Trade Association (FTA), representing European retailers, wholesalers, importers and brands, welcomes the visit of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to the European institutions on 31 March and the efforts on both sides to foster the EU-China strategic partnership. The FTA calls on the EU and China to make the current investment negotiations a top priority to bring forward a successful agreement that mutually grants businesses a high level of protection and improved market access. For the trade sector, China plays a crucial role for sourcing and the country has become increasingly important as a sales market.

Underlining the significant impact EU-China relations have on global trade, FTA Director General, Jan Eggert, interpreted the EU visit of President Xi and the recent launch of EU-China talks for an Investment Agreement as a sign of the increasingly strong ties of bilateral economic exchange. Beijing recently presented a set of unprecedented social and economic reforms, which are an indicator of China’s willingness in reforming its economic legislation and further opening up its market for foreign investment.

The FTA attaches utmost importance to the trade relations with China because of both, China’s paramount role as source of manufactured goods and the gradual penetration of the Chinese market by European distribution and brand companies, such as Adidas, Auchan, Carrefour, Decathlon, JYSK, and Metro. “Unfortunately, our companies do not benefit from a level playing field today. European retailers and wholesalers operating in China still face an important number of behind-the-border barriers. Despite major investments over nearly two decades, only five percent of China’s retail enterprises are foreign invested. Therefore, the distribution sector has placed high expectations on this agreement which should help to further open-up the second largest retail market in the world, worth 2,500 billion euros a year,” Jan Eggert stressed.

 “We hope to see China’s determination transformed into concrete commitments that boost bilateral commerce and remove unjustified impediments caused by protectionist reflexes and lack of harmonisation. The EU must play a pivotal role in guaranteeing that the envisaged agreement enhances market access and protects investors”. FTA has strongly advocated for many years for the launch of such an agreement, of which the second round was held earlier this week, and believes that an agreement would facilitate, in a second step, discussions about the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement.

A legal framework that improves confidence and predictability and the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism should be guiding principles of the talks. In addition, for this investment agreement to be meaningful, the FTA Director General insisted that it should also comprise a solid implementation system that guarantees the right application and full observance of all its chapters. This is especially true for those clauses ensuring that China respects Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) – the infringement of which has a serious legal impact on our members – and commits to develop social and environmental policies addressed at complying with international standards.
For further information, please contact:
Pierre Gröning
FTA Trade Policy Advisor
Tel: + 32 2 762 05 51


About the FTA

FTA is Europe's premier association for trade policy and global supply chains. FTA represents retailers, importers and brand manufacturers in the political arena and in public to promote and defend free trade, and supports their international business by providing information and practical solutions. The association supports its members to improve sustainability in the international supply chain.


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