U.S. corporate leaders today urged President Barack Obama to push for major progress on a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month, in Beijing, and raised the possibility of Senate action on the proposed pact before Obama leaves office in January 2017.
“There are few other commercial outcomes that would gain as much support from business leaders in both the United States and China,” the corporate leaders said in a letter to Obama. “Passage of a high-standard US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty would have a significant and lasting impact on the trajectory of the US-China commercial relationship, and create a more equitable framework to guide the relationship forward.”
U.S.-China talks on the proposed BIT date back to the last years of the George W. Bush administration, although the negotiations got a significant boost in 2013 when China agreed for the first time to cover all phases of investment and to include all commercial sectors except those specifically excluded on a “negative list.”
China agreed in July to intensify talks on the treaty and to begin negotiations on its negative list early in 2015.
The CEOs urged Obama to press Xi to agree to a negative list that excludes as few sectors as possible.
“Investment barriers are market access barriers, plain and simple,” the group said. “If China can significantly reduce its negative list and open markets to American manufacturers, agriculture producers, and service providers, you will find the business community fully engaged and supportive of your leadership to gain Senate approval of the treaty.”