Business / Economy

Trade, investment issues to be tackled at high-level China-US dialogue

By CHEN WEIHUA (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-27 08:58

China and the United States will kick off their annual high-level meeting early next month in Beijing, to address a set of serious bilateral economic and security issues.

The Eighth Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be the last to be held under the Obama administration.

Nathan Sheets, the US undersecretary of treasury for international affairs, praised the past few years' S&ED for making progress such as in promoting the rule of law, strengthening regulatory transparency and encouraging economic reforms.

He was especially happy with last year's S&ED, which took place a few months before President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US in September.

"We were able to have a robust exchange of ideas and make concrete progress in an ambitious set of economic outcomes," he said at the Brookings Institution.

Sheets said the US will engage China on a number of key issues this year, including excess global industrial capacity, investment liberalization and macroeconomic rebalancing. He gave a long list of US concerns from market access, to a more level playing field on exchange rates.

Chinese officials have not publicly talked about their agenda for this year's S&ED. But China has long pressed the US to lift its outdated restrictions on high-tech exports to China, to make the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States review the process for Chinese foreign direct investment in the US fairer and more transparent.

Sheets said the two authorities are discussing a mechanism to facilitate renminbi trading and clearing in the US, something he described as a "priority highlighted in President Obama's meeting with President Xi last September".

He said the US is waiting for a new negative list from China in negotiation for a high-standard Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Hopes of a BIT being concluded under the Obama administration have been dampened due to the 2016 US election. The Obama administration is still trying to get the divided Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Anti-trade rhetoric has also remained strong on presidential campaign trails.

Sheets noted that China has begun embarking on a reform agenda toward more sustainable and balanced growth by addressing issues such as industrial overcapacity, opening up the services sector, strengthening the social security net, implementing land reform and promoting a more market based financial system.

"Constructive engagement with China is important for the United States and for the millions of American jobs, which depend on a strong, stable and growing global economy," he said.

"This year's S&ED will be the last in the Obama administration. I must stress that the continued cooperation with China on the diverse set of issues covered in the S&ED is crucial not just for our respective country, but globally as well."

IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said in Washington on Tuesday that while a slowing Chinese economy has generated much concern, China "certainly can continue to make an important contribution as the biggest single contributor to global growth for some time".

"Don't forget, in 2015, China's growth was equivalent to adding an economy the size of Poland or Sweden to global GDP," said Lipton.

Robert Zoellick, the former president of the World Bank, said on Monday that the US and China could find common interest in China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Asked to comment on the possible cooperation, Sheets did not say whether the US will participate in the initiative, or in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The Obama administration drew wide criticism even within the US for its negative response earlier to China's AIIB initiative, something widely seen as a rising China, playing a positive and constructive role on the global stage.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice-Premier Wang Yang will head the Chinese delegation to this year's S&ED, while the US team will be led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lews.

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