Left to right: European Council President Donald Tusk, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meet at the EU-China Summit in Brussels on June 2, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

The European Union Chamber of Commerce published a position paper on Tuesday, urging China to make good on commitments to further open its economy to investments.

The paper highlights China’s stated goals of establishing a level playing field for all businesses, but decries that implementation of proposed measures has been slow. Some industries, it points out, have actually closed to foreign businesses.

Seizing on Xi Jinping’s assurance that China will increase market access for foreign investors, strengthen IP protections and level the playing field to make China’s market more transparent, the Chamber writes that words need to be matched with action.

As EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said earlier this year, “We are all waiting now for the remarks by the president to translate into action and make trade and investment more open.”

Indeed, according to a recent survey of European businesses operating in China, while only 15% of respondents thought regulatory obstacles would decrease over the next five years, 40% actually expected them to increase.

What will happen if China fails to follow through on its rhetoric? With populism and protectionism on the rise across the globe, there is a real possibility of a backlash against economic globalization, the Chamber argues:

“European governments need to be able to explain to their citizens how trade and investment relations contribute to better lives, more employment and prosperity. They also need to be able to explain why these relations are fair – a lack of reciprocity makes this an extremely hard sell.”

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