China says EU investment deal close after ‘major progress’
Beijing, Dec 29 (efe-epa).- A Chinese official on Tuesday said “major progress” had been made in the negotiations for the business investment deal with the European Union and expected an agreement to be announced at “an early date.”
European diplomats have signalled that the deal, in talks since 2014, could be finalized on Wednesday.
Negotiators had hoped to seal the agreement, which would level the business playing field between the economic powers and boost EU investment in China, by the end of this year.
Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, told a news conference that the investment agreement was the most important item in China-EU relations.
“Thanks to the joint efforts made by both, major progress has been made in the recent talks and the prospect is inspiring.
“We hope the agreement can be concluded at an early date so as to provide institutional guarantee for China-EU economic and trade cooperation, and deliver tangible benefits to companies and people on both sides.”
EU ambassadors gave the green light to the investment deal on Monday.
Sources from the meeting told Efe that the German presidency of the European Council concluded that “no delegation had raised a stop sign and the way for a political endorsement was thus cleared.”
The European Commission said ambassadors welcomed progress in areas like workers’ rights in China, which has been one of the more contentious negotiation points.
Other diplomatic sources said the political agreement on the deal could be announced as early as Wednesday, although its official ratification could be months off yet.