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EU firms: 'China needs to open up market'

September 19, 2017

A survey released by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China has detailed a raft of regulatory barriers that European companies are confronted with in the Asian nation. It said businesses suffered from "promise fatigue."

Daimler logo in Beijing
Image: AFP/Getty Images

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China on Tuesday issued a 400-page report highlighting the regulatory obstacles that continue to hinder investment in the world's second-largest economy.

European businesses were suffering from accumulated promise fatigue, "having witnessed a litany of assurances over the past few years that never quite materialized," the position paper said.

The chamber urged the Chinese government to "supplant words with concrete actions and provide reciprocal access to the country's market."

It said the restrictions imposed on foreign investors forced companies from abroad to partner with local firms and often share vital technology, if they were not barred altogether from accessing certain market segments.

China's economic challenges

No level playing field

"We're now calling for the abolition of foreign investment laws," EU Chamber of Commerce President Mats Harborn told reporters.

"The numbers speak for themselves: Chinese investments in Europe rose by 77 percent last year, while EU investments in China fell by a quarter."

EU investment dropped by a further 23 percent in the first quarter of 2017. A May survey by the chamber showed 54 percent of EU companies operating in China felt they were treated worse than local counterparts.

This is in stark contrast to the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has frequently hailed globalization and insisted that China was "committed to opening up."

While it's generally easier for Chinese firms to invest in Europe, there are increased efforts within EU member countries to prevent foreign companies from taking over firms with sensitive technologies.

hg/jd (AFP, dpa)