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EU should drop discriminatory practices: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-04-28 20:26
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The increasing obstacles that Chinese enterprises are facing in European Union countries is to the detriment of the EU's interests as it will inevitably dampen the enthusiasm of Chinese companies to do business in Europe, and thus diminish the role that they can play in job creation and post-pandemic recovery.

A new report, based on interviews with Chinese enterprises doing business in Europe, said that 28.46 percent of them found it more difficult to do business in the EU states nowadays, an increase of 0.86 percentage points from the previous year's figure, while 25.3 percent think the situation will continue to deteriorate in the years to come, a 3.9 percentage points rise from 2019.

According to the report released by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade on Wednesday, the business environment in EU countries worsened for Chinese companies last year mainly due to rising protectionism following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Because of the investment screening targeting Chinese enterprises, 77.78 percent of the interviewed enterprises said they plan to reduce investment, and 11.11 percent said they will halt investment altogether in some EU countries.

In particular, some EU member states have used national security as an excuse to ban or significantly reduce China's investment in their 5G mobile telecommunications networks, which not only constitutes blatant discrimination against Chinese companies but also violates market rules. Other business hurdles Chinese enterprises often encounter include increasing restrictions on exports, public procurement and foreign subsidies.

The situation is worrying given that it fails to reflect the fact that China has become the EU's largest trading partner and the bloc is China's second-largest, and that the two sides completed negotiations on a major investment agreement at the end of last year, in which both sides pledged to provide "wider market access, higher level of business environment and stronger institutional guarantees" for each other's businesses.

As major participants in economic globalization and advocates of the multilateral trading system, China and the EU share extensive common interests in strengthening their economic and trade relations, and keeping each other's markets open and inclusive.

China is the EU's strategic partner, not its systemic rival, and the deepening of their mutually beneficial relationship serves the best interests of both sides. The EU should increase its policy transparency, maintain the principles of fairness and justice, and stop all discriminatory practices against Chinese companies if it doesn't want to cause additional damage to its trade and investment ties with China.

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