The signing of an investment agreement between China and the European Union can be expected soon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday, noting that major progress has been achieved in recent talks.
"Negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement is currently the most important item on the agenda in economic and trade relations between the two sides," Wang said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
"We hope the agreement will come to fruition at an early date and offer an institutional framework of guarantees for the two sides' trade cooperation and tangible benefits to their businesses and people," he said.
Negotiations, which started in 2013, have aimed at reaching a higher-level agreement covering investment protection and market access.
Both China and the EU have expressed the hope on many occasions of speeding up the talks to fulfill the target of signing a deal by the end of this year.
This month, the two sides held the 35th round of negotiations, during which they conducted talks on the text of the agreement as well as remaining issues on their lists, and progress was achieved, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
A report in the South China Morning Post said the deal was likely to be clinched this week. It cited an EU diplomat with knowledge of the discussions as saying that on Monday, representatives of the EU member states "broadly welcomed the latest progress in the EU-China talks".