EU, China leaders meet to seal investment deal
BRUSSELS (AP) — Top European Union officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping will conclude a business investment deal Wednesday that will open big opportunities to European companies, but has the potential to irk the new American administration.
Amid concerns about the human rights situation in China, the EU said the seven-year-long negotiations will be concluded “in principle" during a videoconference involving Xi, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council president Charles Michel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel — whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU — and French president Emmanuel Macron will also take part in the discussions with the Chinese president, the EU said.
The videoconference will launch a ratification process that will take several months. To enter into force, the agreement will need to be ratified by the European Parliament, and the issue of human rights could be a sticking point.
According to EU figures, China is now the bloc’s second-biggest trading partner behind the United States, and the EU is China’s biggest trading partner. China and Europe trade on average over €1 billion a day.
According to the EU, the deal was brokered after China committed to pursuing ratification of the International Labor Organization’s rules on forced labor.
On Tuesday, the EU expressed concerns about “the restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists, as well as detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals in China.”
The EU hopes the agreement, known as CAI, will help correct an imbalance in market access and create new investment opportunities for European companies in China by ensuring they can...