30 Dec 2020

DIGITALEUROPE Statement on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI)

DIGITALEUROPE welcomes today’s conclusion of the political agreement on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), following seven years of negotiations.

Digital technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, cloud computing, commercial cryptography and blockchain are at the top of the growth agenda for both the EU and China, and will benefit greatly from increased cooperation and reciprocal market access in the digital and technology sectors.

While we are eager to assess the degree to which market access has been achieved in this Agreement, we welcome today’s conclusion of the agreement in principle, and look forward to the opportunities provided for European companies to grow in the Chinese market.

Moreover, we consider this Agreement as an important foundation for future EU-China engagement. Bilaterally, continuing dialogue between the two partners on leading technologies should serve as a crucial complement to the Agreement, ensuring fair, reciprocity-based market access. Such dialogue should also be used to address mounting issues on questions such as data localisation, standards and interoperability, intellectual property rights, and overly burdensome licensing obligations. In developing its legislative approach to these topics, we sincerely hope that China continues to appreciate the spirit of cooperation, openness, and international alignment that the Agreement represents.

Looking to the global stage, we believe that the Agreement sets the scene for increased alignment between the EU and China in the multilateral sphere, including on the WTO eCommerce negotiations, the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). We hope that this Agreement can herald a new era of common EU-China commitment by China to the multilateral, rules-based system of trade.


The EU’s economic relationship with China is growing faster than with any other major economy. China is the second most important trade partner for the EU, and the EU is China’s biggest trading partner. While China is becoming an important partner in addressing global challenges, it is also a competitor in the technology marketplace. In this context, one of the key areas of friction is enabling market access, and China’s focus on indigenous approaches has led to unequal access to the marketplace.  

Thus, the EU-China relationship at once offers opportunities and challenges for DIGITALEUROPE members, and we strongly believes there should be three objectives for the EU-China economic relationship:  

  • level playing field for competition at home and abroad; 
  • Genuinely market-based outcomes
  • Reciprocity in access to markets. 
For more information, please contact:
Chris Ruff
Director for Political Outreach & Communications
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