UK pledges to back China to talk FTA with EU
( China Daily Europe )
China's President Xi Jinping (R) is welcomed by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron to 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain, October 21, 2015.[Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]
UK pledged to support China to reach a free trade agreement with EU as early as possible, though both sides have not started feasibility studies yet.
The consensus was announced after President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a meeting on Wednesday during Xi's ongoing state visit.
Analysts say this announcement is of great significance after Washington recently announced the Trans-Pacific Partnership with eleven Pacific-rim countries on the heels of Xi's September visit in US and United Nations.
"I think this consensus reached by Chinese and British leaders is one of the biggest achievements of President Xi's visit," said Chi Fulin, president of China Institute of Reform and Development. Chi's team is engaging with the Brussels-based European Policy Center to do research on the feasibility of FTA talks between China and EU.
Chi said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are likely to visit China soon and it is highly possible that Chinese leaders will be raising free trade talks.
But now, Brussels is keen on investment talks with Beijing, though the latter has been eager to take actions on FTA. The bilateral investment talks between Beijing and Brussels will enter the eighth round next month.
Stephen Phillips, chief executive of the China-Britain Business Council, said what potentially the TPP has a direct impact is the EU-China investment agreement, which is under negotiation.
"If there are trade agreements that help break down market access barriers, help ease the burden of doing trade, the companies of both sides could earn more profits," said Philips.
Now, China has already entered into free trade agreements with Iceland and Switzerland in Europe.