The European Union and China agreed on Wednesday to an investment deal that will give European companies greater access to Chinese markets and help redress what Europe see as unbalanced economic ties.
The agreement was negotiated for near seven years and is likely to take at least another year to enter into force. It forms part of a new relationship with China, which the EU views as both a partner and a systemic rival.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the agreement an important landmark in the EU’s relationship with China.
Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE, said that although there was little obvious benefit for Beijing in the text, China would not have signed up without some promise of advantage.
“No major power, not least China, gives anything for free, so there will be a trade-off. It’s just not in the agreement,” he said.