Xi to press the case for early BIT

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Negotiations on the China-United States Bilateral Investment Treaty will make up most of the discussions during President Xi Jinping’s forthcoming state visit to the US, the Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.

The visit will speed up and upgrade trade, economic cooperation between the two nations and bolster bilateral relations, said Shen Danyang, the ministry spokesman.

“Xi’s upcoming state visit to the US is a matter of primary importance for Sino-US relations, and will exert a profound influence on the bilateral relationship and economic cooperation,” he said.

The ministry is also looking forward to achieving progress in negotiations over the BIT before the visit, said Shen.

Mark Schwartz, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc, said: “The leaders of the world’s two largest economies in the world should focus on policies and initiatives big enough to result in meaningful economic growth but modest enough to be achieved. The US-China investment treaty is one such initiative. Both sides have a great opportunity to advance their countries’ interests and the global economy.”

According to Schwartz, business communities on either sides of the Pacific have much to gain and should come together to play a constructive role by supporting the negotiations and seizing the BIT opportunity for global growth.

For China, the BIT will help advance its economic reform goals. It can help China achieve these goals by increasing the capital available to private firms (especially small and medium-sized businesses), which often rely on informal lending, said Schwartz.

Foreign capital, and the management expertise that so often comes with such deals, would promote innovation and entrepreneurship, which are critical to any economy’s long-term success, he said.

Shen said both China and the US are going through intense negotiations over economic and trade results to be achieved during Xi’s visit, which is set for Sept 22-25, and are aiming for a productive economic and trade cooperation.

The ministry is also pushing economic and trade cooperation between Chinese provinces and US states to further strengthen economic ties while bringing in tangible benefits to people of both countries.

China and the US should work together to seize the historic opportunity of the visit to strengthen negotiations and cooperation while reducing disparities. This is necessary for the steady and healthy development of Sino-US trade and economic relationship, said Shen.

The spokesman also said that one of the main reasons for the decline in US investment in China during the first eight months of the year is the structural adjustment of foreign capital utilization in the country.

According to data released by the ministry, US investment in China decreased 19.6 percent year-on-year in the first eight months, with the drop more drastic in the first half of the year.

“Some areas of US services investment in China are not in accordance with those fields that China is opening to the world, despite the rapid increase in foreign investment in China’s services sector,” said Shen.

“However, based on information released by the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA, most US companies are still confident and willing to continuously invest in China while reporting positive company growth.”

According to the ministry, US companies used to witness a rapid growth in investment in China. The biggest casualty of the fall in investments is the less-than-satisfactory performance of these firms this year.

Data released by the ministry showed that imports and exports of China’s services trade witnessed a higher market concentration rate during the first six months.

The US, together with Japan, South Korea and Australia, were the major services trade partners of China during the first half, with the total volume of foreign trade accounting for 52.1 percent of the national foreign trade, said the ministry.(Xinhua)

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