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Macron faces EU summit pushback on Chinese investments
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) June 22, 2017

A push by French President Emmanuel Macron to hand Brussels more powers to control Chinese investments in Europe's key industries faced a setback on Thursday from EU partners who fear a rise of protectionism.

European leaders will discuss the thorny topic of international trade on the second day of an EU summit on Friday, as Europe seeks to champion free trade against the protectionist policies of US President Donald Trump.

But Macron, who firmly denied any slight, wanted to put a special focus on the wave of blockbuster investments by China in Europe that has startled some Europeans.

According to a draft of the summit conclusions seen by AFP, opponents of Macron's efforts have succeeded in watering down an earlier proposal.

In the latest draft, leaders will only ask the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to "examine the need" to screen investments from countries outside the EU, with China the main target.

The leaders will then "revert to this issue at one of its future meetings," delaying any discussion to an unspecified date, the conclusions will say.

Arriving for the two days of talks, the French leader denied the development was a setback.

"On investments, very clearly, the conclusions reflect our wishes," Macron said.

"I hope we can have... a Europe that is absolutely open to free trade and our values, but that leaves us protected when others break the rules," he said.

"We are asking the commission to work on it."

Macron's idea had faced significant opposition from Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, as well as European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, all highly suspicious of French-style meddling in the open market.

EU governments agreed to at least include the idea in the summit conclusions as a gesture to Macron, whom leaders want to congratulate for roundly defeating the far right Marine Le Pen in elections last month.

"If you look at the draft summit conclusions you will find a collective effort to not make life excessively complicated for Macron -- on the understanding that he will deliver on promises and reforms," a senior EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

NAFTA renegotiation may extend into 2018: US official
Washington (AFP) June 19, 2017
Renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement could take until next year, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday. The remarks underscore the pressures facing the current administration as it attempts to deliver on one of President Donald Trump's signature campaign pledges. Speaking at a trade event near Washington, Ross said that in an "ideal world" talks would be complete ... read more

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