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China, U.S. to start negative list BIT negotiations
BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) — China and the United States are likely to conclude the first phase of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) talks soon and start substantive negotiations on the negative list, a Chinese assistant commerce minister said on Wednesday.
"The BIT talks consist of two phases, the first is text and the other is the negative list. We are going to start the second phase," Zhang Xiangchen said at a press briefing on the ongoing China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).
The sixth round of S&ED and the fifth round of High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) started in Beijing on Wednesday.
BIT talks began in 2008, which is expected to deepen Sino-U.S. economic tie in which two-way trade already exceeds 520 billion U.S. dollars.
The 13th round took place in Beijing in June and produced remarkable agreements, Zhang said. The 14th round will be held in Washington D.C. in late July.
At last year’s S&ED, the two countries agreed to BIT talks on the basis of pre-establishment national treatment (PENT) with a negative list approach. PENT means that foreign investors and their investments will be accorded national treatment in the pre-establishment phase of their businesses.
China wants the United States to narrow national security reviews on Chinese investment, while the U.S. side would like to see China keep its "negative list," which details sectors barred to U.S. investment, as short as possible.
A revised negative list reduced the number of industries restricted for foreign investment in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone to 139 from 190.
"The reduction of the negative list is significant for reform of investment management. It was not aimed particularly at the BIT talks," Zhang said. "But it has some impact."
Compared with the nationwide investment approval system, the negative list is a fundamental change, making foreign investment easier, Zhang said.
"BIT negotiations on the basis of PENT with a negative list approach are in accord with China’s economic restructuring," Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said on Monday.
Conclusion of the BIT talks would be historic, significantly helping the bilateral relationship and the world economy, Zhu said.