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Business

China, EU agree to start talks on investment treaty

China and the European Union have said they're both interested in starting talks about a bilateral treaty which would tremendously boost direct investments. The two sides agreed there was much room for improvement.

At a meeting between the two sides in Beijing, Chinese and European Union officials said direct investments in each other's areas had been sluggish in recent years, particularly against the backdrop of steadily increasing trade activities.

"Trade volume between the two sides has increased at a very fast pace, but we must realize that there's still a great potential for China and the EU to raise direct investment," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the bilateral business forum on Thursday.

EU officials attending the gathering said a future treaty on direct investmentwould be a test of China's willingness to compromise and play by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that did not allow member countries to subsidize companies with a view to undercutting competitors abroad.

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"We make a substantial step forward by launching negotiations on an investment agreement, covering both investment protection and market access," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy remarked at the summit.

"A level playing field, transparency and confidence in the rule of law are essential on both sides for business to thrive," he added.

Europe is China's most important trading partner. China is the EU's biggest trade partner after the United States. In 2012, bilateral trade in goods and services amounted to 483.5 billion euros ($649 billion).

hg/dr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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