Chinese companies will receive binding commitments of access to the EU market under a new investment agreement, while China will open up its financial, manufacturing and services sectors to the 27-nation bloc, a Chinese government official said.
The investment deal between the EU, the world's largest trading bloc, and China, its second-largest economy, was announced by both sides on Wednesday after nearly seven years of negotiations and is likely to take at least another year to enter into force.
China and the EU will "push for an early signing" of the pact, Li Yongjie, deputy director of the department of treaty and law at China's Ministry of Commerce, said at a late-night media briefing in Beijing.
Although the European investment market is relatively open, through the agreement the EU provides Chinese companies with legally binding market-access commitments, she added.
Consensus was reached on issues such as energy, state-owned enterprises, transparency of subsidies, technology transfer, standard setting, administrative enforcement and financial regulation, Li said, adding that the agreement also made provisions on environmental and labour issues.
Asked whether China would ratify outstanding labour conventions amid concerns in Europe about forced labour, Li said only that China forbids forced labour and has reiterated, in the agreement, its obligation as a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Beijing has not yet ratified four out of eight fundamental ILO conventions, including on forced labour, according to the organisation's website.
Opening up the IT sector is part of the agreement, Li added, giving hospitals and automobiles as examples of areas in the manufacturing and services sectors that would be opened up.