In a report released this week, an EU business group said a range of non-tariff barriers to market access in China reflects a growing "economic nationalism" that is against the interests of European firms.
European firms say Chinese trade barriers are getting more sophisticated
"European companies are generally optimistic about their business in China, but their concerns remain about market access, transparency, intellectual property rights and environmental sustainability," the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a "position paper" on Tuesday, Sept 9.
"Economic nationalism appears to be a growing concern," the paper, which was based on a survey of many of its 1,400 members, said.
Joerg Wuttke, president of the chamber, said foreign businesses continued to benefit from China's strong economic growth but warned that "trade barriers and investment hurdles are getting more sophisticated."
"European business could contribute more to China's economy if our companies shared a level playing field with their domestic competitors," he told reporters.
Wuttke said foreign businesses were "lacking good success stories" in mergers and acquisitions and would watch "very closely" the planned takeover of China's leading fruit juice firm by Coca-Cola Co.
Chinese state media said the commerce ministry planned an anti-monopoly review of the US-based soft-drink giant's $2.4 billion (1.7 billion euros) offer last week to buy the Huiyuan Juice Group.
Other problems cited by Wuttke included the exclusion of foreign firms from infrastructure projects and government procurement programs in China.
"Economic nationalism is primarily driven by economic interest groups that try to gain a monopoly and try to exclude foreigners," he said.
The EU chamber said it would use the annual report to lobby the Chinese government, the European Commission and EU member states.