Wash­ing­ton to ad­vance talks in in­vest­ments treaty

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By PU ZHENDONG in Ningbo puzhen­dong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The United States will work closely with China to push for­ward ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty and wel­come Chi­nese in­vestors in a wide range of in­dus­tries, a se­nior US diplo­mat said on Thurs­day.

“Bei­jing has re­al­ized the im­por­tance of the BIT, which guar­an­tees the bet­ter flows of in­vest­ment both ways, es­pe­cially now that Chi­nese in­vest­ment in the US is grow­ing sharply,” said Robert S. Wang, the US se­nior of­fi­cial for Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion.

“The ma­jor move for­ward of the ‘neg­a­tive list’, which is es­sen­tially ar­eas hav­ing re­stric­tions against for­eign in­vest­ment, has changed the pre­vi­ous ap­proach of con­duct­ing in­vest­ment,” he said.

Wang’s re­marks came two weeks af­ter Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang and vis­it­ing US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry reaf­firmed a joint de­ter­mi­na­tion to ad­vance BIT ne­go­ti­a­tions and en­hance com­mu­ni­ca­tion on global is­sues such as cli­mate change.

The BIT ne­go­ti­a­tions, which be­gan in 2008, were re­vi­tal­ized in July at the fifth round of the China-US Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue.

“The treaty will take a long time to ne­go­ti­ate,” Wang said, adding that he has no­ticed more ef­fort from China to ac­cel­er­ate the pace. “This year, we will have four rounds of dis­cus­sion.”

Wang, head of the US del­e­ga­tion, is at­tend­ing the APEC 2014 First Se­nior Of­fi­cials’ Meet­ing in Ningbo, Zhe­jiang prov­ince. Wash­ing­ton aims to ad­vance pri­or­i­ties such as trade and in­vest­ment lib­er­al­iza­tion, sus­tain­ing growth and con­nec­tiv­ity dur­ing the 2014 APEC meet­ings.

Sus­tain­ing growth, which is be­ing pro­moted by the US del­e­ga­tion, in­volves a broad range of pro­pos­als on re­new­able fu­els, anti-cor­rup­tion ef­forts and the em­pow­er­ment of small and medium-sized en­ter­prises, Wang said.

“China is grow­ing very quickly, but the prob­lem is how to sus­tain growth in an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way,” Wang said, adding that Bei­jing’s poor air qual­ity ear­lier this week is a re­minder of the need for im­me­di­ate ac­tion from govern­ment and in­di­vid­u­als to in­crease the use of re­new­able fu­els.

Anti-cor­rup­tion ef­forts are im­por­tant be­cause the rapid growth of many Asian economies is of­ten af­fected by bribery and cor­rup­tion, which cre­ate prob­lems within the sys­tem and pose threats to fu­ture de­vel­op­ment, he said.

“As for small and medium-sized en­ter­prises, they are key play­ers in the econ­omy, but some­times they do not have ac­cess to fi­nanc­ing or the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket in terms of ex­pan­sion,” he added.

In re­cent years, sub­re­gional trad­ing blocks such as the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment and the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship have emerged in the Asia-Pa­cific, draw­ing crit­i­cism for what seems to be a frag­ment­ing of the eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion process among APEC mem­bers.

De­scrib­ing trad­ing blocs as “de­voted to low­er­ing trade bar­ri­ers on a vol­un­tary ba­sis”, Wang said in the end their goals are the same, namely, call­ing for a bet­ter trade and in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment.

“It is just like people tak­ing dif­fer­ent trains. At some point, we may have to fig­ure out how to be ef­fi­cient with so many trains. But they are go­ing to the same di­rec­tion in terms of build­ing co­op­er­a­tion,” he said.

Wang said APEC, a trad­ing “gar­dener”, has helped mem­bers nur­ture in­dus­tries and re­duce tar­iffs, which ac­counts for record growth in the re­gion.

“One of the most unique things about APEC is how the pri­vate sec­tor sup­ports it,” Wang said. “They ben­e­fit from all the ca­pac­ity build­ing, all the work APEC does to make their busi­ness smoother.”

Bei­jing as­sumed the po­si­tion of APEC host at the be­gin­ning of this year, and is ex­pected to host more than 100 APEC meet­ings and re­lated events through­out the year un­der the theme of “Shap­ing the Fu­ture through Asia-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship”.

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