Importance of Trade in services and of Investment between EU and China – June 2023


In 2013 the EU and China launched negotiations for an Investment Agreement. The aim is to provide investors on both sides with predictable, long-term access to the EU and Chinese markets and to protect investors and their investments.

ESF Position Paper on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

On 29 June 2020, ESF sent its new Position Paper on the EU-China CAI to the European Institutions. The main objective of the European services industry is that the Agreement would improve market access conditions for European companies. You can find the Position Paper here.

The European Services Forum calls the EU negotiators to use the negative list approach for the negotiations; to negotiate similar access to European services providers than the one China allowed other trading partners; to negotiate the incorporation of new openings by China revised national “negative lists”; to ensure that the Agreement will cover all market access issues which are linked to investment, i.e. also the movement of people linked to the investments. In addition of new market access for services businesses, ESF emphasise that adoption of strong disciplines will be crucial.  It calls the EU to negotiate Transparency and domestic regulation requirements; to ensure that European services enterprises compete on an equal footing when operating in China (Level Playing Field), and set rules for State owned enterprises (SOEs). Furthermore, ESF calls upon the negotiators to negotiate an Investment Protection Agreement that will provide a strong protection to EU investors. The agreement should have an efficient state-to-state dispute resolution mechanism and an efficient investor-to-state-dispute settlement. ESF also calls the EU to split up the deal with China into two legal treaties, one being the Comprehensive Investment Agreement that will tackle market access and national treatment issues, and a second one being the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).

European Commission DG Trade information on negotiations of the EU-China CAI

Key milestones:

Key documents:

Civil Society Dialogues

More on the EU-China investment agreement

On 30 December 2020, EU and China reach agreement in principle on investment

On 30 December 2020, the EU and China have concluded in principle the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). This deal follows a call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Commission President von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on behalf of the Presidency of the EU Council, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron. China has committed to a greater level of market access for EU investors than ever before, including some new important market openings. China is also making commitments to ensure fair treatment for EU companies so they can compete on a better level playing field in China, including in terms of disciplines for state owned enterprises, transparency of subsidies and rules against the forced transfer of technologies. For the first time, China has also agreed to ambitious provisions on sustainable development, including commitments on forced labour and the ratification of the relevant ILO fundamental Conventions.

See Press release here

ESF welcomes the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

“This is a very important agreement for European service businesses who today face many market access barriers on the Chinese market”: said Pascal Kerneis, Managing of the European Services Forum (see Press Statement here). For service companies, the establishment of a commercial presence abroad is the preferred way to operate internationally. ESF welcomes the commitment by China to eliminate restrictions like equity caps or joint venture requirements and to open up progressively many services sectors like financial services, telecommunications and IT and computer related services.

ESF Director at WEBINAR on “EU-China CAI”

The webinar took place on Wednesday 27 January 2021. It was moderated by Prof. Jane Drake-Brockman, from Institute for International Trade (IIP), University of Adelaide & Board Director, Australian Services Roundtable. The Keynote Speaker was Maria Martin-Prat, EU Chief Negotiator, European Commission, Brussels. The Panelists were Bryan Mercurio, Simon F.S. Li Professor of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Dr Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director, European Services Forum, Brussels.

See Programme here. See YouTube video of the event here above (ESF Director from 20:00 to 36:00). An Opinion Piece was also posted on the IIP website at this occasion (here).

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