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21 Jan 2021

Annabelle Timsit, Quartz

EU-China investment deal: Despite China's concessions on labour and civil society involvement, critics fear EU would turn blind eye to human rights issues

"Was the investment deal Europe signed with China worth it?" 15 January 2021

On Dec. 30. the EU and China agreed in principle on a deal that will govern their bilateral investment going forward.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) was first proposed in 2012, as Europe increasingly saw its economic future in Asia (pdf), and sought out deeper ties with Beijing. [...]

[...] Nick Marro, lead global trade analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit, believes that many of the concessions highlighted by the Commission as unprecedented are a “a repackaging of existing wins.” China has committed to significant market reforms since 2017 and, while some of the issues contained in the CAI are new and noteworthy, analysts say most double down on existing commitments. [...]

Meanwhile, activists complain that Europe may have compromised on its red lines, including how to prevent subsidies going to state-owned enterprises who compete with European firms. They also worry the EU may be less willing to confront China (pdf) on labor and human rights down the line because it wants the CAI to succeed. [...]