Sino-US investment treaty talks to resume

Updated: 2012-04-29 07:02

By Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily)

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China and the United States will begin the seventh round of talks on a bilateral investment treaty very soon, Deputy Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao said on Saturday

"The two countries will announce the resumption of the negotiations on the treaty at the technical level in the upcoming fourth round of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue," Zhu told a news briefing, adding that the two countries attach great importance to the resumption of the negotiations.

He said the negotiations were suspended due to a US assessment of the text. Their internal consultations and review of the text had finished, according to the US side.

"The Chinese side is glad that the negotiations will resume on the sidelines of the fourth round of the dialogue," Zhu said.

"The resumption of the talks on the treaty is a positive signal for bilateral trade and investment, but the process will not be easy," said Zhang Yansheng, director of the Institute for International Economic Research under the National Development and Reform Commission.

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce showed that bilateral trade between China and the US reached a record high of $446.7 billion in 2011. US exports to China hit $122.2 billion last year, up 20 percent year-on-year. Both China and the US are now each other's second-largest trading partner.

The contract value of the US investment in China was $7.4 billion last year, while China's direct investment in the US stood at $6 billion in the same period, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

"We hope that the US government could have a more open attitude toward investment from Chinese enterprises, including both private and State-owned ones," Zhu said.

"In fact, Chinese enterprises could play a role in boosting infrastructure construction in the US," Zhu said.

Sun Zhe, a professor at Tsinghua University's department of international relations, said the dialogue will help remove the political barriers to bilateral trade and investment between China and the US, but Chinese enterprises should also get better prepared to expand overseas.

"Some Chinese enterprises, especially State-owned enterprises, seem not to have done enough homework about the local legal requirements when investing in the US," Sun said.

Zhang and Sun both believed that the US and China should try its best to reduce political interference in economic issues.

"In this election year, how to minimize the political impact on economic issues should be a major concern of the two parties during the imminent fourth round of the dialogue," Zhang said.

In an interview on Friday, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was asked to assess relations between the US and China before heading for Beijing to attend the upcoming round of the dialogue.

"Better. Better than it was," he was quoted by Reuters as saying, noting that a 13 percent real appreciation in the yuan's value was "pretty good for us" since it reduces the competitive price advantage that Chinese-made goods have over US products.

"There's better protection for intellectual property rights in China, less piracy against US firms, and China is gradually dismantling a range of the subsidies that their firms enjoy, which gives them an unfair advantage," he said.

There is still work to do, Geithner added, but "the basic direction of reforms in China is fundamentally in our interest".

China and the United States will hold the fourth round of the diaglogue from May 3 to 4 in Beijing

Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo will hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner in the fourth round of the dialogue.

The talks, upgraded from the China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue in 2009, cover a long list of issues, including strategic concerns, the environment, human rights and trade issues.

(China Daily 04/29/2012 page4)