CEPS Project

Tomorrow’s Silk Road: Assessing an EU-China Free Trade Agreement


The ancient Silk Road consisted of a network of paths, mountain passes and ‘branches’ used by daring traders to connect China and Europe via several intermediaries. There was no real infrastructure, just a near-endless chain of local and regional byways. Indeed, the Silk Road was not so much a ‘road’ but an expression of a fierce determination to connect markets and to seek the value-added of goods exchanged between different cultures and levels of development.

This CEPS book comprises a first-ever economic and regulatory analysis of a possible Free Trade Area (FTA) between the EU and China, whose design aims to be ‘deep and comprehensive’. It provides an overview of the global economic environment in which EU-Chinese economic relations have developed in recent years, including global value chains linking the two economies. The present study shows that much could be achieved with ‘Tomorrow’s Silk Road’, in the form of a Free Trade Area Agreement between the EU and China, especially if it is a ‘deep and comprehensive’ one. Good for China and good for the EU.

The study was first published by CEPS in 2016 as a CEPS paperback with a small print run. The present version has been partially revised and updated. The study was led by Jacques Pelkmans of CEPS, and the research was carried out by a team of trade specialists at CEPS, in partnership with another team of researchers led by Prof. Joseph Francois of the World Trade Institute (WTI) in Bern.

Co-published with Rowman and Littlefield International (RLI).

Weinian Hu

Federica Mustilli

+32 2 229 39 64

Mattia Di Salvo

Associate Researcher

+32 (0)2 229 39 76

Jacques Pelkmans

Associate Senior Research Fellow

+32 (0)2 229 39 56

Tomorrow’s Silk Road

Assessing an EU-China Free Trade Agreement – 2nd edition

Tomorrow’s Silk Road

Assessing an EU-China Free Trade Agreement