EU and China discuss market access amid Brexit fallout

Chinese President Xi Jingping

European Union and Chinese leaders are kicking off a two-day summit in the shadow of global uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the bloc and pressure from companies for better access to China’s market.

EU leaders are expected to press their Chinese counterparts to step up their efforts to reduce overcapacity in sectors including steel following complaints that low-cost Chinese competition is putting European steelworkers’ jobs at risk.

President Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang are meeting European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Beijing.

Also high on the agenda during the summit will be a push for progress on an investment agreement between the two sides, which, the EU says, will enable fair competition between Chinese and European companies.

Chinese officials say they want to sign an agreement quickly to benefit both sides and that foreign companies are welcome in their economy.

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment had to be concluded first before any negotiations could start on a free-trade agreement between China and the 28-nation EU.

Negotiations first started in January 2014.

Other topics are likely to include the situation in Syria and the resulting migrant crisis, possible new fields of defence and security co-operation in Africa and climate change.


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