Chinese and EU think tanks have urged a fresh bilateral investment treaty, or BIT, between China and European Union members.
At the First China-EU CEO and Former Senior Officials' Dialogue on Friday, a proposal for China-EU business cooperation was put forward by the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, together with Brussels-based economic think tank Brugel, London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"There is huge potential for bilateral trade and investments," said Zeng Peiyan, former vice-premier of the State Council, at the forum. "Setting up an effective bilateral scheme will play a vital role in promoting cooperation between the two sides and the global economy as a whole."
The think tanks said setting up a safer, more open and more transparent platform like a BIT will not only promote bilateral trade and investments but offer a wider range of business opportunities for both sides.
They also expressed hope that EU-China cooperation will strengthen in the next decade.
"There is anxiety among investors on both sides, mainly about the access to markets," said Zhang Xiaoqiang, executive deputy head of the CCIEE. "Policymakers should ease their anxiety by creating an investment-friendly environment."
Once negotiations for BIT finish, the upgraded bilateral relationship may act as a good foundation for an EU free trade agreement, which is expected to increase EU's exports to China by one-third, and China's exports to the 27 EU member countries by 20 percent.
With each side being the other's biggest source of imports, trade volume between China and the EU is estimated to surpass 6.78 trillion euros (.12 trillion) in 2025, providing that the economic reforms of both sides are in good momentum, according to a CCIEE research report.
"The foreign direct investment (FDI) amount between China and the EU is still much lower than that between the EU and the US. There lies huge potential in the sector," said Jean-Claude Trichet, former governor of the EU Central Bank. "The two sides should work together to dig for more cooperation opportunities."
Regardless of Brexit and the US' exit from the Paris Agreement, think tanks from both China and the EU reaffirmed their positive views on trade globalization, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Paris Agreement.
"It is a good moment to take the opportunity to discuss issues that can strengthen China-EU bilateral trade and investment relationship," said Markus Beyrer, CEO of Business Europe, an industry chamber.
"The First China-EU CEO and Former Senior Officials' Dialogue is Step One and the first step will go a long way toward building a more beneficial relationship between the two sides," he said.