EU seeks to rebalance China ties with new deal

Another deal to see out the year.

And this one has been nearly seven years in the making.

The European Union and China agreed on Wednesday (December 30) to an investment deal that will give European companies greater access to Chinese markets.

And help redress what Europe sees as unbalanced economic ties.

Negotiations for the deal, which began in 2014, accelerated this year.

They concluded during an online meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and EU heads including the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council chief Charles Michel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were also involved in Wednesday's negotiations.

Von der Leyen said in a tweet that the two parties had concluded principle negotiations to ensure more balanced trade and business opportunities.

Chinese Xinhua news agency reported that Xi Jinping said "the agreement shows China's determination and confidence in opening up".

European firms will gain permission to operate in China in sectors including electric cars, private hospitals, real estate and advertising, among others.

Some requirements that companies operate as part of joint ventures with Chinese partners will be lifted.

And China will ban the forced transfer of technology from foreign companies.

It's also pledged to be more transparent on subsidies and bar state-owned enterprises from discriminating against foreign investors.

It's expected that the deal will likely take at least another year to be finalised and come into force.