Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron called for joint effort in pushing for an early entry into force of the China-EU investment agreement.
The two presidents spoke on the phone on Thursday agreeing to work together to push forward the ratification process of the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which expands European market access to China, a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The long-awaited result – in late-December – of 35 rounds of negotiations in the course of seven years to reach an investment agreement marks milestone in EU-China relations. The agreement is expected to inject new vitality into the pandemic-battered global economy, European experts, officials and business leaders have said.
The agreement focuses on greater market access, improved business environments, stronger institutional guarantees and greater cooperation prospects for mutual investment.
For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the agreement is a strategic win and the icing on the cake of Germany’s Council of the EU presidency.
The two major economies already enjoy substantial economic relations with two-way trade between them reaching CNY 4.86 trillion yuan (USD 740 billion) in 2019. China has become the biggest trade partner of the EU while the EU is now China’s second-largest trade partner. The EU is also China’s third-largest source and destination of investment.
But the Sino-European rapprochement is not without its critics with some pundits saying the deal snubs the incoming US administration of President Joe Biden who is said to be eying a reset of relations between its trade partners after the Trump years. US President Biden has already voiced concerns about the deal.
And some EU countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have raised concerns about the EU’s ability to address human rights issues under the agreement.
In the call with President Macron, President Xi also emphasised that China and France should continue to champion multilateralism and inspire global efforts, and making meaningful contributions to achieving an early victory in the global fight against Covid-19, according to the statement.