Europe’s leading business lobbying organizations say that reform commitments made by China still fall short of reality. They call for tangible action and timetables for opening up the world’s second largest economy. Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday (5 November) that he would lower tariffs, expand market access and boost imports from abroad while speaking at a trade expo in Shanghai designated to show off good intentions amount mounting disagreements with the United States.
However, despite the goodwill shown by Xi Jinping, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China commented that Xi’s speech did “not go as far as is necessary”. The chamber endorsed the promise to remove caps on foreign investment in medical services and education as well as Xi Jinping’s aim to speed up talks on China-EU investment deal. “That said, European business had higher hopes for what had been marketed by the Chinese government as a milestone event,” the chamber said. “This constant repetition, without sufficient concrete measures or timelines being introduced, has left the European business community increasingly desensitized to these kinds of promises,” it added.
The chamber also said that companies were “disenchanted” with Chinese free trade zones, which were supposed to be expanded. The EU organization called them a “timid approach to reform that is unaligned with China’s economic weight and maturity” and added that Beijing should concentrate on opening up new sectors of its economy to foreign investment. The EU is China’s largest trading partner and China is the EU’s second largest trade partner after the United States. Most of this trade is in industrial and manufactured goods.