China, EU to reach investment agreement within 2020, signed food protection deal

China and the European Union (EU) have agreed to accelerate the negotiation of the China-EU investment agreement, and seal the deal within the year. The deal, when reached, will give European companies greater access to the Chinese market and to prevent the EU from increasing trade defenses.

Chinese President Xi Jinping co-hosted China-Germany-EU leaders' summit on Monday evening in Beijing via video link with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. 

Prior to the meeting, the two sides signed a deal on Monday to protect each other's exported food and drink items from feta cheese to Pixian bean paste ahead of challenging discussions on trade, climate change and human rights at an online summit.

The two sides will respect the names of 100 European regional food designations and 100 Chinese equivalents, meaning, for example, that China will only allow  "champagne" to be used on sparkling wine from the French region of that name.

China was the third-largest destination for EU agricultural and food products in 2019, worth 14.5 billion euros (17.2 billion U.S. dollars).

After the deal comes into effect, the U.S., Australian or New Zealand producers will no longer be able to use the protected names on their exports to China, although there is a transition period for certain cheeses.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-EU diplomatic ties.

(With inputs from Reuters)