China, EU agree to strengthen trade relationship

China, EU agree to strengthen trade relationship”

It remains to be seen whether the items agreed in the statement will be implemented.

Premier Li told reporters that China was ready to foster a better business environment for foreign firms.

European Union diplomats said on Monday negotiators had made some progress, but were still short of an agreed text. But any final communique needs to be signed off by Li, Juncker and Tusk.

While pressing China to cut industrial subsidies and open up more to foreign investment, Europe is resisting protectionism by Mr Trump, wary of his trade war against Beijing.

Like the United States, many European Union countries want to crack down on industrial subsidies and forced technology transfers, although prefer dialogue to the trade war Washington has triggered.

China was hoping that India would review its position on BRI - and participate in the Forum on this occasion - keeping in mind the remarkable turnaround in ties previous year, as evident from the first informal summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April 2018.

This year's meeting comes a month after the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, branded Beijing "a systemic rival" in a special 10-point report that stressed China's unwillingness to play fair on trade.

"The old narrative is absolutely obsolete", Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told Reuters.

Last week, EU Commission officials had been quoted saying that they were met with deep differences with China over investments, minority rights and trade issues and the summit could have ended without a salubrious outcome, indenting Europe's effort to achieve a larger access into the Chinese market, world's second largest economy. The Chinese deny trying to dominate strategic European industries and has repeatedly said it wants a "win-win" relationship of mutual benefit.

Tusk and Juncker are expected to raise concerns about Xi's initiative, namely that the vast infrastructure plan is unsustainable, damaging to the environment, creates financial dependency and is mainly about projecting Chinese power overseas. It includes provisions to ban forced technology transfers and ensure foreign companies have access to public tenders.

EU officials accused Beijing of wanting merely a "feel-good" summit, while Brussels sought to show a common front and address growing concerns over Chinese state-led enterprises and their acquisition of key European assets.

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