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US companies urge investment pacts with BRIC nations

Reuters | December 4 2007

US companies urge investment pacts with BRIC nations

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) — Major U.S. exporters urged the Bush administration on Tuesday to begin negotiations with the "BRIC" nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China — on bilateral investment treaties, which they said were critical to U.S. service company efforts to tap those large markets.

"Failure to act would not only be a missed opportunity, but could put U.S. investors at a significant disadvantage. Many of our European competitors operate in China, Russia and India with BIT (bilateral investment treaty) protection," the President’s Export Council said in a letter to President George W. Bush.

The four countries all have substantial, largely untapped domestic markets where U.S. service industry firms in areas such as banking, finance, energy services, computer services, insurance and telecommunication should be able to thrive.

"U.S. companies cannot, however, make the most of these opportunities unless, first they are given the right to invest in these countries on an equal footing with their domestic and foreign competitors, and second, they can operate in a stable, fair and transparent regulatory environment," the panel said.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab spoke to the group shortly before it approved the letter and said the United States had already raised the idea of negotiating a bilateral investment treaty with each of the four countries.

"We aren’t going to force a bilateral investment treaty on any country, but we think this is a potential benefit for all concerned," Schwab said.

The United States and China will discuss long-term efforts to boost bilateral trade and investments in a pair of high-level trade talks that Schwab and other senior Bush administration officials will attend next week in Beijing.
(Editing by Dan Grebler)

 source: Guardian