Talks fo­cus on length, qual­ity of ‘neg­a­tive lists’

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XIN­HUA

China and the United States will fo­cus on the length and qual­ity of “neg­a­tive lists” — doc­u­ments that spell out sec­tors closed to for­eign in­vest­ment — dur­ing the next two rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions on a bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaty, a se­nior Chi­nese of­fi­cial said on Tues­day.

“Dur­ing the latest 19th round of ne­go­ti­a­tions, the two sides ex­changed ini­tial of­fers of neg­a­tive lists,” Zhang Xiangchen, China’s deputy in­ter­na­tional trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive and as­sis­tant com­merce min­is­ter, said at a news brief­ing on the side­lines of the sev­enth round of the Chi­naUS Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue.

“The neg­a­tive list it­self is a ma­jor progress in the ne­go­ti­a­tions, and both sides de­scribed it as a mile­stone event,” Zhang said, adding that it will “fun­da­men­tally change the for­eign in­vest­ment ad­min­is­tra­tion regime” and “sub­stan­tially fa­cil­i­tate for­eign in­vest­ment” in China.

“The next is­sue will be the length and qual­ity of the neg­a­tive lists” af­ter both sides ex­changed ini­tial of­fers, he said, adding that both coun­tries ex­pressed their will­ing­ness to have fur­ther progress on bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaty ne­go­ti­a­tions and make the neg­a­tive lists “shorter and bet­ter”.

While the neg­a­tive-list is­sue is more dif­fi­cult for China, both sides need to im­prove their neg­a­tive-list of­fers, the Chi­nese of­fi­cial said, urg­ing the US gov­ern­ment to im­prove its in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment as more Chi­nese in­vest­ments have come into the coun­try.

Zhang said the two sides will have two fur­ther rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­fore Septem­ber on neg­a­tive-lists of­fers, but de­clined to give a spe­cific timetable for the con­clu­sion of the talks.

“I hope the bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaty ne­go­ti­a­tions could be con­cluded as quickly as pos­si­ble,” Zhang said.

Adam Posen, pres­i­dent of the Peter­son In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics, said he be­lieves the US and China can fin­ish the in­vest­ment treaty talks un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“There is more room for agree­ment than peo­ple re­al­ized,” Posen said. “I cer­tainly think (it’s) doable be­fore Pres­i­dent Obama leaves of­fice in Jan­uary 2017.”

The in­vest­ment treaty talks be­gan in 2008 as China and the US sought to in­crease mu­tual in­vest­ment, which only ac­counted for a tiny share of their re­spec­tive over­seas in­vest­ments.

But it was not un­til the 2013 Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue meet­ings that the talks en­tered a sub­stan­tial phase.

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