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Free Trade Agreement between China and the European Union: What are the Pros and Cons?

The European Union (EU) and China are two of the world’s largest economies. They have a complex trading relationship that has been growing over the years. Despite some challenges, the two economies continue to explore opportunities to strengthen their partnership through a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The aim of such a deal would be to remove barriers to trade and investment, increase market access, and boost economic growth. However, as with any proposed trade deal, there are potential pros and cons to consider.

Pros of a Free Trade Agreement between China and the European Union

1. Boost in Economic Growth

The most significant advantage of an FTA between China and the EU is the expected boost in economic growth. According to the European Commission (EC), the EU-China FTA could lead to a 0.6% increase in the EU`s gross domestic product (GDP) and a 1.8% increase in China`s GDP by 2030. This translates to billions of euros in additional revenue for both economies.

2. Opportunity for Exporters

For European businesses, an FTA could mean greater access to the Chinese market, which has over 1.4 billion consumers. This could provide new opportunities for EU exporters and increase their competitiveness in the global market. At the same time, Chinese companies would have easier access to the EU market, creating new opportunities for them as well.

3. Reduced Tariffs and Non-Tariff Barriers

An FTA would eliminate tariffs and reduce non-tariff barriers such as quotas, licensing requirements, and technical regulations for businesses in both regions. This would remove significant costs for importers and exporters, providing them with a competitive advantage.

Cons of a Free Trade Agreement between China and the European Union

1. Unequal Market Access

One of the biggest concerns of the EU is the unequal market access for European businesses in China. The EU has been calling for a level playing field for its companies in China for years. They argue that China has protectionist policies that make it difficult for foreign companies to operate in its market. Failure to address this issue could result in more significant trade imbalances and hinder the benefits of an FTA.

2. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection

There are concerns about the protection of IPR in China, which is a crucial issue for European businesses. They argue that China has not done enough to enforce IPR laws, leading to widespread counterfeiting and piracy. This could result in significant losses for EU companies in China.

3. Human Rights Concerns

Another significant concern is that an FTA could overlook China`s human rights record, which has been criticized globally. Some experts argue that an FTA could legitimize China’s actions and dent the EU’s image as a defender of human rights.


There are both pros and cons to the proposed FTA between China and the European Union. While a deal could boost economic growth, increase market access, and remove trade barriers, it could also aggravate the issue of unequal market access, jeopardize IPR protection, and ignore human rights concerns. Thus, a careful consideration of all aspects is needed before signing the deal. The EU should ensure that the terms are mutually beneficial and address all of its concerns. It is only by striking a fair deal that the two economies can harness the full potential of their partnership and set the stage for future cooperation.