The European Commission, along with France and Germany, are calling on China to open its domestic market more to foreign companies.
According to a report in The Financial Times citing comments the world leaders made after a summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Beijing to provide a “certain amount of reciprocity” to ink a future investment agreement between the European Union and China. The summit is part of an effort by the European Union to showcase its unity and Europe’s role as a superpower, noted the report. French President Emmanuel Macron, who invited Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, said the openness of Europe has helped transform China’s economy and lift 700 million people out of poverty. He also said “deep tensions” led to the need for some European Union member states to put strict restrictions on China. He was reportedly referring to restrictions in some countries on China buying technology companies. EU states have complained that it’s almost impossible for EU companies to win public procurement contracts in the country such as to work on railways or the transport infrastructure, noted the report.
During his public comments, The Financial Times reported Xi said China would move forward with its reform plans and opening the country to outside investments. He didn’t mention any reciprocity with the EU. He also used his speech to warn against distrust on both sides. “We cannot let natural suspicion get the better of us,” The Financial Times quoted Xi as saying. “We cannot always be guarded against each other and worry that they may do something behind our backs.”
The summit with the EU and China comes as it is also negotiating with the U.S. over trade. A formal agreement between the U.S. and China in which tariffs may be lifted is expected by the end of March.