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China calls for investment treaty with Europe

Chinese premier Li Keqiang has called for an investment treaty between the EU and China, to make it easier for Chinese companies to acquire European businesses, the Financial Times reports. 01 Jul 2015

Speaking at the annual EU-China summit in Brussels this week, Li also called for a feasibility study on a free trade area to boost connections between the regions, the Financial Times said.

"If a comprehensive, balanced and high standard investment treaty could be reached early, it will bring opportunity for both sides to combine their respective strengths and form a new pattern of co-operation," Li said, according to the Financial Times.

EU-China trade now exceeds $1.7bn a day, Li said.

Li also said that China is willing to work with the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), a €315 billion investment plan initiated by president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker for resuscitating Europe's economy and building infrastructure, China Economic Net said.

Beijing-based Helena Chen of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "This major investment from China in the EU's new infrastructure fund could be a game-changer for Europe’s roads, railways, airports and energy networks."

"This is another sign of China’s commitment to seeking out overseas investments that promise steady and long-term returns. We have already seen billions of yuan heading into Europe, such as Manchester Airport City and Thames Tideway in the UK. This will usher in a host of new opportunities for China-EU ties," Chen said.

Research by Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind out-Law.com, has shown that Chinese investment into UK energy, real estate and transport projects could become a "game changer", with £105 billion expected to be invested into UK infrastructure by 2025.

A report by Pinsent Masons and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in October 2014 said that much of this investment will be driven by an increase in joint ventures and partnerships between UK firms and their Chinese counterparts.

The 'China Invests West' report found that China already invested £18bn into UK projects between 2005 and 2013, including sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation's acquisition of a 10% stake in Thames Water, the UK's biggest water utility. However, this "trickle" of Chinese investment will turn into a "major wave" over the coming decade, as Chinese firms seek more opportunities within advanced economies such as the UK in order to increase the value of their own offerings.

China Economic Net reported that Li proposed bringing together China's comparative advantages in production capacity and equipment manufacturing with the advanced technology of European economies..

Li said that China will increase its purchase of bonds issued by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and improve the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) system, China Economic Net said.

China is "also open to the TPP", Li said, according to the Financial Times. The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is a trade deal being put together between the US, Japan and 10 other countries.

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