On May 16, 2014, the European Union announced the signing of its first deal with China at the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee (JCCC) summit in Beijing. Under this agreement, both countries will agree to subject one another's trusted traders programs to more relaxed customs clearance procedures in order to cut down on red tape at the border for companies that have a proven track record of safety, reliability and compliance with relevant security standards.
According to the EU, this agreement with China now makes its trusted trader program, also known formally as the Authorized Economic Operator system, the most widely accepted in the world, having already sealed deals with the United States in 2012 and Japan in 2011. Algirdas Semeta, the EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, said that the "agreement is fully in the spirit of trade facilitation, by making customs procedures easier, cheaper and faster for our trusted operators. It is also in the spirit of growth, by improving our business environment and accelerating trade. Our citizens will benefit from greater protection too, as customs can focus more resources on where the real risks lie."
The EU and China also approved a new Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation for the period of 2014 – 2017, replacing a previous framework signed in 2009. This framework is aimed at fostering cooperation between the parties in certain customs law areas such as trade facilitation and supply chain security.
Furthermore, the EU and China put forward a new action plan on the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) also during the period of 2014 – 2017, which is intended to help the two countries coordinate their efforts to combat counterfeit goods and illicit trade. This new agreement expands on a preliminary IPR deal in 2009 by calling for an exchange of seizure statistics to detect general trends and risks as well as several other steps.
These new agreements are examples of initiatives between the EU and China indicating that they are willing to engage in bilateral initiatives. In March 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping and two EU heads of state released a joint statement indicating a willingness to pursue negotiations for a free trade agreement, which came a few months after the EU's Foreign Affairs Council approved a negotiating mandate for a potential investment agreement with China.