The EU Shouldn’t Rush Into a Comprehensive Trade Deal With China

China is trying to rush a deal through before EU-U.S. relations stabilize. Europe shouldn’t cave.

After more than six years of slow and mostly inconclusive negotiations, the European Union and China seem to be inching to a deal on their Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Yet whatever concessions Beijing might have offered to Brussels in an effort to conclude the negotiations before the change of administrations of Washington, it would be a grave mistake for European negotiators to say yes to the Chinese offer.

China’s goal is not to foster economic integration with Europe but to poison the transatlantic relationship before it has a chance to recover in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s departure from the White House. Not only that, the CAI is bound to drive a wedge between EU member states and between EU institutions—most notably the European Commission and the European Parliament.

To be sure, there was a rationale for the negotiations. Investment and business relations between the two economies are governed by an inconsistent patchwork of 25 bilateral agreements that China negotiated with individual countries, offering little in the way of reciprocity.

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