Speech - On the EU-China investment agreement
European Commission - SPEECH/13/793 08/10/2013
Other available languages: none
Karel De Gucht
European Trade Commissioner
On the EU-China investment agreement
European Parliament Plenary/ Strasbourg
8 October 2013
Mrs(s) Chair(man), Honourable Members of Parliament,
The level of bilateral investment between the EU and China is still far below what one would expect from two important economic blocs. Although Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from the EU to China are on the increase, they only represent 2.1% of total EU FDI outflows. The EU’s share in the total FDI outflows from China also remains low, although the overall amount has increased strongly in recent years. Promoting bilateral investment should be our joint economic objective for the years ahead.
Recent consultations with investors and stakeholders have confirmed the findings of our impact assessment study - namely that the main added value of an EU-China Investment Agreement resides not only in creating a level playing field on investment protection but above all in generating further investment liberalisation.
I look forward to the launching of negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement that will offer both protection to existing and future investments and create new market access on both sides, thereby providing the impetus for increased two-way investment flows.
When I last met my Chinese counterpart at the EU-China Joint Committee in June, I received reassurances that negotiations would cover all issues of interest to either side, including market access. I trust the Chinese negotiators will be empowered to reach an ambitious deal by the new leadership.
Negotiations towards an ambitious agreement will create positive momentum for our strategic partnership at large. The Commission remains committed to engaging positively with China. A High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue with China on 24 October, and the expected launching of investment negotiations at the EU-China Summit on 21 November 2013, will be important stepping stones towards building a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with China.
The successful launching of these negotiations will also mark the first ever mandate given to the Commission to negotiate a stand-alone investment agreement, following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the gradual deployment of EU investment policy.
In addition to the dual objectives of investment protection and market access, the EU will also endeavour to use these negotiations to promote the Union's general external action principles.
For example, the Commission will aim to address sustainable development matters, such as preventing the lowering of standards to attract investment, supporting social and environmental standards, and providing a reference in support of internationally recognised standards of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and appropriate procedures to address disputes in this area.
Just like our Member States did in their bilateral investment treaties, the EU agreement should include Investor-to-State dispute settlement provisions in the agreement. Strong enforcement improves the protection of EU investments in China, reduces market access barriers to investing in China, and increases bilateral investment flows.
I thank you for your attention.