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Trade disputes 'would not alter' investment deal

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-08 07:38

Negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty between China and the United States will not be obstructed or delayed by trade disputes because both nations are under pressure to stimulate their economies, officials and experts said.

Their comments came after China's commerce and trade watchdog urged the US to conduct trade reviews on China and other trade-surplus countries in accordance with international rules. The watchdog's statement, on April 1, came after US President Donald Trump signed executive orders last week to cut the trade deficit.

The Ministry of Commerce said the US trade deficit with China, and reasons behind the deficit and its effects, are well understood by both countries. The statement highlighted that bilateral economic relations are highly complementary and have mutual benefits.

Yu Jianlong, secretary-general of the China Chamber of International Commerce, said the trade disputes would not alter the goal of both countries to reduce investment restrictions. The economic growth resulting from such reductions would help the Trump administration fulfill its promise to create jobs in the US manufacturing sector, at least within the next two years, Yu said.

"Completing a high-standard BIT (bilateral investment treaty) therefore would offer US businesses more convenience to invest in priority sectors such as advanced manufacturing and technologies in China," said Yu.

Chen Deming, a former commerce minister, said that an investment treaty, while furthering China's goals to become a global manufacturing powerhouse by 2025, "would boost the confidence of Chinese companies to invest in the US by providing greater certainty about Chinese investors' rights in the country".

The validation of an investment treaty would help Chinese and US companies operate businesses in each other's markets independently in the long term, instead of their looking for local partners to form joint ventures. That would give investors more flexibility to control their finances and make investment decisions, said Yao Zhizhong, deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

China has already signed bilateral investment treaties with 130 countries and regions, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

China-US bilateral investment treaty negotiations were launched in 2008 and the countries have completed 34 rounds of talks. They have made notable progress, including cutting the number of industries on the negative list and creating the momentum and public support to ensure investors' interest on both sides. A negative list includes industries where foreign investors are barred, while all other areas are presumed to be open.

Investment between China and the US exceeded $170 billion in 2016, with US companies investing nearly $80 billion in more than 67,000 projects involving businesses in manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors in China, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

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