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Elite Talk: US Undersecretary of Commerce sheds light on China-US BIT, TPP

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For the China-US economic relationships, two-way investment plays an increasingly important role in advancing the commercial ties. China and the US have initiated substantive talks on a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which would greatly boost two-way direct investment between the world's top two trading powers.

The BIT, once signed, could open a new chapter for the China-US bilateral economic cooperation, as it would allow US companies greater access to the Chinese market while assuring a fair treatment of the growing Chinese investment in the US.

Although China and the US have both made their commitment to substantive negotiations on the BIT, no specific timetable has been given; and some entrepreneurs recently called for the BIT negotiations to be resumed.

For the latest info on the BIT talks, I checked with Mr. Francisco Sánchez. He is the current Undersecretary for International Trade at the US Department of Commerce. Here's our talk.

Zhenyu Li: Some Chinese and American business leaders recently called for resuming negotiations on the China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). Anything new on that negotiation?

Francisco Sánchez: You know, that's managed by the Office of the US Trade Representative, and I don't have any new information as to where that is. I know there is a lot of interest on the Bilateral Investment Treaty by both the United States and China, and so I know we will continue to engage on that issue but I don't have any new information in terms of timing.

What I can say is that there are many things that we can do to encourage trade and investment in our respective countries, and a Bilateral Investment Treaty is one of those, but I also think we need to spend time on other things like specific barriers to trade and barriers to investment, and find ways to reduce those barriers for our mutual interests.

Zhenyu Li: Talking about reducing trade barriers, the US has been actively pushing forward a free trade initiative – the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) across the Asia-Pacific region. It is now in the final stages of negotiations. Anything new on the horizon for that negotiation?

Francisco Sánchez: I am very excited about the TPP. It is an effort by now 12 countries that touch on the Pacific to create a 21st century, high-standard trade agreement. And I think not only will it benefit those 12 countries, but it will help become a precedent for trade generally.

(This is a reprint from the People's Daily Online of the December 19, 2013 edition.)

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