EU-China deal grinds into reverse after tit-for-tat sanctions

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Fewer than three months after it was agreed, progress to pass an EU-China deal giving European companies better access to Chinese markets has sharply reversed after tit-for-tat sanctions.

China blacklisted five members of the European Parliament and its sub-committee on human rights on Monday in response to Brussels’ sanctions against Chinese officials accusing them of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The parliament, whose approval the China comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) requires, cancelled a Tuesday meeting to discuss the deal in protest.

The centre-left Socialists & Democrats, parliament’s second largest group, said the lifting of Chinese sanctions was a condition to enter talks on CAI.

“There has to be a solution of these sanctions before we come back to ordinary business on this,” said Bernd Lange, the German Social Democrat who chairs the parliament’s trade committee.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum had already raised concerns about forced labour in China, some saying it should ratify International Labour Organization conventions on this issue before the investment deal is passed.

Reinhard Buetikofer, the chair of the parliament’s China delegation who is among those sanctioned, said the accord had appeared set for approval in a year, during the French six-month EU presidency.

Shopping Cart