China hopes to conclude talks on EU investment deal by ‘early date’

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China hopes lengthy negotiations for an investment deal with the European Union can wrap up at an “early date”, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

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Talks have been stuck for years since beginning in 2014 as the bloc accused China of failing to deliver on promises to lift investment curbs, despite a pledge to open up the world’s second largest economy.

“We hope the deal can come to fruition at an early date,” the spokesman, Wang Wenbin, told a regular news briefing in the Chinese capital, adding that talks had recently “achieved huge progress.”

The comment followed remarks on Monday by European officials that the deal was likely to be clinched this week, giving EU firms better access to the Chinese market, better competition conditions and protections for investments.

Even if there is political agreement on the deal this week, hammering out legal texts could take months. Together with the ratification process, that could mean pact implementation will take about a year, EU officials have said.

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