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Foreign firms want action not words from China about opening up its markets, warns EU envoy


Foreign businesses are becoming increasingly frustrated by Beijing’s lack of action to open up its markets, according to the European Union’s envoy to China. President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January firmly endorsing free trade and has promised to further open up the country’s market. Beijing suspended imports of some cheese products and required additional certificates for low-risk food imports from October 1. Foreign firms are also complaining about the possibility they will be forced to make technology transfers in exchange for market access. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed to set up a screening framework for foreign investment in EU countries during his state of the union address on September 13, the same day that the United States banned acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor by a Chinese equity fund. China’s investment in the EU last year grew by 77 per cent compared with 2015 to €35 billion (41 billion dollar)”. The EU’s investment in China fell for the fourth straight year to €8 billion, down 23 per cent last year, while its investment in the United States reached 277 billion dollar. Juncker’s proposal, which was made in response to pressure from the German, French and Italian governments, was interpreted as a countermeasure to the rapid inflow of Chinese investment designed to buy up hi-tech firms and know-how from Europe. On Monday the EU also agreed on tough new rules to curb cheap imports, which Juncker described as an “anti-dumping measure”, although he insisted it was not aimed at any country in particular.

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