The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Strategic Opportunity Meets Strategic Autonomy
ASIAN YEARBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW (2022) 2022: 47–70
20 Pages Posted: 12 May 2021 Last revised: 12 Aug 2022
Date Written: May 1, 2021
This article provides a critical analysis of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which was concluded in principle by the EU and China on 30 December 2020. It was hailed as “the most ambitious agreement that China has ever concluded with a third country” by the EU, and a “high-level” agreement that matches “international high-level economic and trade rules” by China. Upon a closer examination, however, such rhetoric does not appear to be warranted as the Agreement failed to add much in terms of substance. What, then, explains the rationale between the Agreement? This article argues that the key to understand the Agreement lies not in the narrow commercial interests, but more in the broad strategic and geopolitical considerations of both the EU and China. The article concludes with a review of the development of the twin concepts of “strategic opportunity” in China and “strategic autonomy” in the EU, as well as what the confluence of these considerations would mean for the future of the CAI.
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