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Business Leaders, Former Officials Call for U.S.-China Trade Pact

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In a joint statement following the recent conclusion of the fifth U.S.-China CEO and Former Senior Officials’ Dialogue in Washington, D.C., participants “affirmed their strong desire” to work toward the initiation of negotiations on a U.S.-China Trade and Investment Agreement “at an appropriate time.” Participants acknowledged that the two countries “each face different economic conditions” and that negotiating a trade agreement “would be a long process” that “could create unique economic and political challenges.” However, they said, an agreement would promote economic growth and reform, enhance trust in the economic relationship, and support the rebalancing of each economy: China’s in the direction of more consumption and services, the United States’ in the direction of more investment and exports.

According to the statement, participants agreed that for a U.S.-China pact to be “economically meaningful and politically viable” it would have to include strong, enforceable disciplines in areas such as investment, merchandise tariffs, agricultural trade, services, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights and dispute settlement. U.S. participants said an agreement should also address competition policy, state-owned enterprises and government procurement, while Chinese participants emphasized U.S. export controls on high technology products, market economy status for China and increased transparency of U.S. national security reviews of Chinese foreign direct investment transactions.

The participants said the U.S. and China should begin “step-by-step efforts” toward the launch of negotiations. These could include completing negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty “on an accelerated basis,” improving access to each other’s government procurement markets and cooperating in the expansion of the plurilateral Information Technology Agreement. They also expressed confidence that an agreement at the upcoming World Trade Organization ministerial meeting on trade facilitation, agriculture and development would “build confidence for increased U.S.-China cooperation in future WTO, ongoing bilateral investment treaty, and future U.S.-China Trade and Investment Agreement negotiations.”

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