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[WASHINGTON] The United States plans to step up negotiations with China for a treaty to free up investment flows, the Obama administration said on Tuesday in a report released ahead of a key juncture in talks to boost business between the two countries.
Washington and Beijing are working to seal a bilateral investment treaty, or BIT, to limit the sectors in which foreign investment is restricted, which currently range from telecommunications to soybean crushing. By early 2015, the two nations are due to exchange offers detailing which industries would remain off-limits. "The United States looks forward to intensified negotiations with China in order to reach agreement on a BIT," the Office of the US Trade Representative said in its annual report to Congress on China's compliance with its commitments as a member of the World Trade Organization.
Last year, China announced plans for economic reforms that would reduce government involvement in its massive economy and reduce restrictions on foreign investment.
The USTR report repeated Washington's cautious optimism over the policy shift, but it also urged Beijing to move more swiftly on implementation. "(Washington) will continue to urge China to eliminate its system of separate investment laws for domestic and foreign investors and to instead apply one law to both domestic and foreign investors," the report stated.
China and the United States already have a trade relationship worth more than US$600 billion a year and the Chinese market is an important source of revenue for some US companies The report also detailed US complaints over China's economic policies, from lax protection of intellectual property rights to export subsidies.
Washington wants China to allow its government offices to buy more US goods and services, and noted that China has submitted a revised offer to join a global agreement aimed at creating a level playing field for foreign companies competing for government contracts.
The USTR's wish list for China includes reducing market access barriers, more transparency, less discrimination, requiring state-owned enterprises to compete with other enterprises on a level playing field, and a stronger legal system.