The 32nd round of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) begins today as delegations pursue a final arrangement before the end of this year.
The CAI negotiations began in 2014 as an effort to expand access and reduce investment barriers in both markets. The previous round focused on forced technology handovers, state-owned enterprises and transparency surrounding subsidy rules. This week’s meetings aim to resolve the remaining disagreements regarding market access equality and sustainable development.
One obstacle to finalising the CAI is China’s recent record of human rights violations. The EU has previously attempted to decouple these issues from the negotiations; however, they were brought up at last week’s high-level EU-China Leaders’ Meeting. No progress was made, delaying the discussion till the upcoming EU-China Human Rights Dialogue.
Anticipate some progress to be made this week as parties negotiate residual investment issues. In the near term, expect EU officials to hold discussions on balancing its aspiration for bilateral investment relations with China and its strong belief in human rights protection in order to conclude the CAI by 2021. Should the EU decide to insert human rights into later negotiations, China will resist any categorical denouncement or regulation of its record, potentially derailing the EU’s investment ambitions in Asia.
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Trey is the Chief Editor of Foreign Brief's Analysis division. He specializes in Southeast Asia’s political, economic, and security environments, particularly as they relate to US and Chinese foreign policy strategies.