A view of Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
China‘s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday that talks on the China-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) are progressing well and negotiators will commence the 32nd round of negotiations next week. At that point, they will work on remaining issues involving the agreement text and market access issue, with a goal of achieving a near-term signing of the treaty.
The announcement came after leaders from China and the EU pledged during a virtual summit on Monday to speed up negotiations on the BIT to achieve the goal of concluding the pact within this year.
MOFCOM spokesperson Gao Feng said that China and the EU have held six rounds of formal negotiations so far this year and made positive progress on the text and lists, despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
The significant progress made on level-playing field related issues at the 8th High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue, held in July, marked another significant step in the process, Gao said.
Gao said the 32nd round of negotiations will begin next week, with the goal of signing the BIT at an early date so as to benefit companies and investors from China and the EU.
The negotiations are being closely watched by the business community.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said the business community has witnessed stagnation in certain areas on the talks, but the chamber said it was encouraged that the EU and China had summoned the political will to hold an China-EU virtual summit this week.
“The commitment to create high-level dialogues for digital as well as climate and environmental issues is encouraging in this regard, as it establishes a mechanism to continue frank discussions on challenging issues,” the chamber said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday.