The EU rightly refers to the Phase 1 agreement, because the EU and US financial service providers have the same dysfunctions with regard to access to the Chinese financial market. What is embarrassing is that the concessions obtained between China and the US are reciprocal, which means that they will not extend to the EU or other third parties. The products mentioned in that agreement must be regarded as characterised by their unique characteristics, associated with their geographical origin and traditional know-how. This commentary deals with how the EU and China reached an agreement 20 years ago, before China joined the WTO. Despite the complexity of the Chinese market, the uncertainty of its legal environment and the differences between foreign and domestic companies, the World Investment Report 2019 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) established that China remains the second largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world after the United States, followed by Hong Kong. In 2016, the two sides agreed on the scope of the future agreement. They agreed that it would go beyond a traditional investment protection agreement to cover market access for investments and a number of important disciplines. It would also include provisions on sustainable development and dispute settlement. The CAI negotiations aim to create a single legal framework for EU-China investment relations by replacing the 25 obsolete bilateral investment agreements concluded by China and EU Member States before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, when the EU became responsible for most investment issues. The CAI must go well beyond traditional investment protection and also cover market access, investment-related sustainable development and a level playing field for subsidy transparency, as well as rules for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and forced technology transfers. Ms Mieke Vanderstraeten studied law in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and obtained an LLM (Lex Legis Magister) in European law from the European College of Bruges (Belgium). She began her career with the Dutch Competition Authority, followed by 4 years as a “legal secretary” (legal adviser) in the office of the Dutch judge of the “Supreme Court” of the European Union in Luxembourg.

In 2004, she joined the European Commission in Brussels, where she worked at the European Competition Authority. Since 2008, she has been the EU negotiator for an important part of the “Trade in goods” chapter in the negotiations on EU free trade agreements in Asia (notably Korea, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, but also with Singapore and Japan). Following the entry into force of the EU`s flagship free trade agreement with Korea, it was also responsible for a significant part of the implementation. . . .