China and the European Union will launch a second round of talks in the near future to update the existing bilateral agreement on trade and economic cooperation.
"The second round of negotiations is expected to focus on areas such as investment and consumer protection," Yu Yuantang, an official with the commerce ministry's European affairs department, said yesterday at a seminar on China-EU trade sustainability impact assessment in Beijing. "The two sides are actively preparing for the talks but the timing is not yet settled."
After the EU's enlargement in 2004, the EU-China trade relationship became the biggest in the world. But it was based on a four-page bilateral agreement signed in 1985 between China and the former European Economic Community.
Beijing and Brussels pledged to sign a new agreement to govern bilateral economic and trade relations to replace the old one and to update the comprehensive partnership and cooperation agreement to cover more areas in the bilateral relationship.
Talks on both agreements were launched separately last year.
Some consensus was reached in the first round of talks on economic and trade ties, which concentrated on development aid, internal markets and e-commerce, Yu said.
The China-EU trade volume was $356.15 billion in 2007, up 27 percent from a year earlier.
Labor-intensive products still account for a large proportion of China's exports to European countries, while the nation mainly imports technology and capital-intensive goods from Europe.
The two economies now have over 20 dialogues under discussion covering areas such as agriculture, civil aviation, consumer product safety, macroeconomic policy and financial market regulation.
Meanwhile, a report on bilateral trade sustainability impact assessment financed by the European Commission was released at the seminar. It raised concerns about China's trade surplus against the EU, environmental issues in China and China's IPR protection.
Xia Youfu, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, said European experts should look to the "mutual benefits" between the two sides and consider giving China market economy status.
(China Daily February 21, 2008)