BEIJING – The European Union is working to strike a bilateral investment agreement with China that has been on the negotiating table for seven years, the new EC Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said Thursday.
At a press conference in Beijing, on the back of a Geographical Indications deal that was agreed on Wednesday in China, Phil Hogan said the main obstacles to the investment agreement were those related to industrial subsidies, market access and technology transfers.
After eight years of negotiations, China and the EU agreed to grant special protection to European denomination products in the Chinese market and Chinese denominations in the European market.
The deal will protect regional food names of European products such as French cognac, Bordeaux, Comte cheese, Catalan cava and Manchego cheese.
Hogan told reporters that China wants to work closely with the EU and that both areas have a bilateral trade of about $1.7 billion daily.
The commissioner added that the aim was to achieve a dynamic market and added that the deal was a good sign that progress can be made in the realms of investment and trade.
The deal will fulfill a key trade target the EU has to penetrate the Chinese market and will prop up the export of high-quality agricultural products to China which is the second top importer of European agriculture and food exports.
The agreement will also work to meet growing demand for protein in China.
When asked about reforms to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Hogan said it was essential to maintain a multilateral trading system.
The commissioner said China and the EU had a similar position on the matter, unlike the United States.
The EU agenda is independent of that of the US, he said.
Hogan added that the EU was the only entity that was holding talks with China to resolve commercial issues such as the WTO reform.
The main difficulties both parties encountered in the negotiation process of the investment deal was the issue of subsidies, which Hogan described as complex.
The commissioner said before delving into a free trade agreement between China and the EU the bilateral investment agreement must first be closed.