'Ambitious approach' needed for new China-EU ties
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BRUSSELS, Nov. 26 - The European Union (EU) and China need to adopt an ambitious approach at to strike a new and cooperation deal, EU Trade Peter Mandelson said recently.
"This has to be an agreement of the highest standard and ambition, which addresses current concerns and provides the framework for the coming years," Mandelson said in a written interview before a crucial China-EU summit.
Chinese and EU leaders will assemble in Beijing next week for their annual summit. And the new partnership agreement is almost certain to be high on their agenda, which will also include trade relations, cooperation in environmental protection and international issues.
Earlier this year, China and the EU officially began talks on the new partnership and cooperation agreement, a key document to update the 1985 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement. The current document is the legal basis governing China-EU ties and sets the tone for future relations.
Mandelson said he hoped the new partnership deal would bring the already leading trade partners even closer.
"On trade, we need to focus on medium to long term (deals), seeking an agreement that will enhance the business environment and unlock opportunities," Mandelson said. "This is in the shared interest of the EU and China."
The EU is the largest trading partner of China, while Beijing is the trading bloc's second largest. In the first 10 months of this year, trade reached nearly 8 billion, up 27.5 percent year-on-year, according to Customs data.
Mandelson reached Beijing on Friday on his fifth visit to China since becoming the EU Trade Commissioner in late 2004. He is scheduled to meet Chinese trade officials and representatives from European firms operating in the country.
His frequent trips to China highlight the deepening of bilateral ties, although they still have some differences over trade issues.
Citing the trade gap between the EU and China as one of his major concerns, Mandelson said he needed time to talk to the Chinese authorities during the summit to find a solution to the problem.
"This is a development in our trading relationship that both sides need to take very seriously."
EU exports to China grew by about 20 percent last year, and Mandelson hoped EU companies would share more of the huge potential offered by the Chinese market. Better access to EU businesses and more protection of intellectual property rights will be among the issues to be discussed, Mandelson said.
The EU will treat China more as a "normal partner" in its trade relationship, Mandelson said. "We should make fewer allowances for China's 'developing' and 'emerging' country status."
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