China-EU investment deal: draft text shows Beijing to broadly open market to European firms, but some sectors remain off limits

An imminent investment treaty will crack open large swathes of the Chinese economy to European firms, but a recent version of the negotiating text suggests that Beijing intends to ensure some important sectors remain off limits.

The treaty could be concluded on Wednesday, when China’s President Xi Jinping is due to hold a video conference with European Union (EU) leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the EU presidency this year.

Many firms in European industries including manufacturing, engineering, banking, accounting, real estate, telecoms and consulting stand to enjoy unrestricted access to the world’s second largest economy as part of the laboriously negotiated deal, which has gathered steam in the past two weeks.

This represents, at least partially, the hallowed “level playing field” sought by EU negotiators over seven years of talks, aimed at allowing European firms to compete fairly with China’s state-owned giants.

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