Millennium Post

China & USA set for investment deal... after 24 rounds of talks

After 24 rounds of negotiations, the much anticipated China-US bilateral investment treaty (BIT) is nearing completion with most of the key issues resolved, former Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on Wednesday. Both sides have agreed in principle to take disputes between host countries and investors to third party arbitration at the World Bank, Chen has been quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province.

The treaty is vital for free and easy investment, a key aspect of economic vitality, said Chen, who is also the President of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. The BIT will help Chinese companies invest overseas and fit better in the global value chain, he added. A total of 24 rounds of talks have been held since negotiations started in 2008. The treaty is regarded as a big boost to Sino-US ties after China became the biggest trading partner of the US last year, with trade volume reaching nearly $560 billion. "Sino-US trade has grown large in volume, but bilateral investment is still trudging a muddy path," said Song Hailiang, president of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Company, a Chinese manufacturer of heavy-duty equipment. 

Merit Janow, dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, said China is very open to foreign investment when considered among all developing countries, and that big progress has been made in this regard, though some sectors are not yet fully opened. The treaty will not only greatly benefit companies of both countries but also help rebuild confidence of the world economy, Janow said.

At the conclusion of China's annual legislative session last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said China will give American investors wider access to the Chinese market and that it is hoped the US will do the same when mentioning the ongoing BIT negotiations. 
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