China, US to exchange negative lists of investment treaty talks
WASHINGTON, April 17 (Xinhua) — China and the United States are expected to exchange negative lists of bilateral investment treaty (BIT) "this month or next month," which could pave the way for substantial achievement on the negotiations in this regard in September, China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said Friday.
Zhu made the remarks at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-D.C. based think tank, on the sidelines of the ongoing spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, after U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman told Xinhua earlier Friday that he expected the two sides to exchange the negative lists soon.
Zhu said Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Obama gave clear instructions to negotiating teams of both sides that it ’s time to exchange negative lists to speed up BIT talks when they met last November, as the investment treaty has become a top priority for bilateral economic relations.
China has shorted the negative lists on which foreign investments are restricted by host countries in the pilot free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin, and Fujian, but the negative list offers for BIT talks will be decided through China-U. S. negotiations, Zhu said.
Froman said the quality and length of the negative lists are going to be an equivalent indictor of China’s commitment to open up its economy, and the United States hopes China makes a lot of efforts to keep its negative lists narrow and short, in consistent with the overall comprehensive reform agenda announced at the third plenum of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee in late 2013.
Zhu said it’s not realistic to expect the BIT talks to be concluded in September when President Xi Jinping makes his first state visit to the United States, but the two sides could reach "a big achievement" on the talks by then.
"We try very hard to conclude negotiations" of the investment treaty next year based on "reality and hard work of both negotiation teams," Zhu said.
Froman seemed to endorse this timetable, saying the United States and China could finish the investment treaty talks before Obama leaves office.
Talks on the investment treaty began in 2008 as both countries sought to increase mutual investment, which only accounted for a tiny share of their overseas investment.
The treaty is expected to cement the foundation of China-U.S. economic ties and significantly benefit global economy.