Washington and Beijing began formal negotiations towards a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) in June 2008. A year later, the highly sensitive talks were halted until July 2013. The US is interested in getting Chinese restrictions on foreign ownership in about 100 sectors — from soybean oil and automobiles to life insurance and other financial services — lifted for US companies which want to expand their market presence there. The Chinese government is interested in getting more security for highly-scrutinised Chinese investments in the US and its massive holdings of US sovereign debt ($1.3 trillion).
In late 2013, China agreed to initiate talks on a possible BIT with the European Union as well.
The EU will assess whether a US-China deal to roll back some bilateral tariffs in exchange for increased US imports to China is compatible with World Trade Organisation rules.
The US and China signed what they billed as the first phase of a broader trade pact. Big issues of Beijing’s state-run economy left for phase two.
Certain aspects of the soon to be signed US-China “Phase One” trade deal to end the ongoing 18-month trade war between the two nations may not be released to the public.
China has pledged to buy almost $80 billion of additional manufactured goods from the United States over the next two years as part of a trade war truce.
The clash between the US and China is arrestingly sharp and deep not only because the stakes are so high and the parties so profoundly different but also because it has been brewing over several decades of increasingly intimate and complex interaction.
China highlighted a pledge to fully open up its oil and gas exploration sector. Financial services deals long in the works may be tied to deal.
The Phase 1 deal reached last month is expected to cut tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of US goods but Chinese officials have yet to publicly commit to key points.
China will not raise its quotas for the import of grains, according to vice agriculture and rural affairs minister Han Jun, raising the prospect of a stand-off with the US.
China’s trade delegation tentatively plans to travel to Washington for four days from January 13 for the signing of the phase one deal.
The agreement will not only increase Chinese purchases of US agricultural products but pave the way for long-term structural reforms.