China's Hong Kong security laws cast shadow over trade deal talks

The president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China has expressed doubts that a long-awaited China-EU investment agreement will be finished this year.

Joerg Wuttke told reporters during a briefing that he was disappointed the latest high-level EU-China meetings, which were held on Monday, did not lead to a joint communique, adding that he was concerned China is drifting towards isolation.

“The fact that both parties didn’t feel like reporting what has been agreed upon is an indicator that there was very little to agree upon,” said Wuttke.

“I don’t see any conclusion this year.”

The EU and China have both said they hope to conclude negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment in 2020, after six years of talks.

EU officials say they want to see movement in areas such as autos, biotech and micro-electronics and see Beijing limit subsidies for state-run companies.

Meeting halfway with Chinese negotiators is impossible as Europe is already far more open than China, said Wuttke.

Speaking after video calls with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Chinese needed to be more ambitious. She also warned of “very negative consequences” if Beijing goes ahead with a new security law on Hong Kong that the West says will curtail basic rights.

Premier Li said on Monday that cooperation with the European Union outweighs competition, and China hopes the EU could relax export control measures against China.

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