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China needs to do more on market access, Merkel tells Li

[BERLIN] German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed in a video conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that Beijing needs to take action to open up its market and treat foreign companies fairly, her spokesperson said on Thursday.

German firms want better market access in China and more legal certainty for investment. They also complain that the government in Beijing distorts competition with high subsidies.

"She highlighted the need for further steps on market access, reciprocity and equal treatment of foreign companies," government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said of Ms Merkel's discussion with Mr Li.

"Concluding an ambitious investment agreement between the EU (European Union) and China is an important element in this process," Mr Seibert added.

Negotiations on an investment agreement have been underway for six years and should be concluded in 2020.

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Ms Merkel told Mr Li that Germany, which takes over the EU's six-month rotating presidency in July, wants rules-based and free multilateral trade plus a strengthened World Trade Organization, Mr Seibert said.

German manufacturers depend on both demand and supply chains from China, their country's biggest trading partner.

Ms Merkel and Mr Li acknowledged three agreements reached between Chinese and German partners ahead of the video conference in which German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier participated, said Mr Seibert, without providing further details.

The pair also discussed their cooperation on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, human rights, the situation in Hong Kong, investment and trade issues in various economic sectors including public procurement and global economic issues.


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