Sat, Apr 28, 2012 - Page 10 News List

US lawmaker calls for investment treaty with China

Reuters, Washington

A top US Republican lawmaker on Thursday called on US President Barack Obama’s administration to negotiate an investment treaty with China and to increase pressure on the world’s second-largest economy to make trade and currency reforms.

“Plain and simple, we cannot allow China to continue its unacceptable trade practices,” US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said in a speech, referring to longstanding barriers to US exports and the widespread piracy and counterfeiting of US goods.

“The litany of China’s trade-distorting policies is deeply troubling and cannot be allowed to stand,” Camp said.

“In addition, we should pursue a bilateral investment treaty [BIT] with China,” he said.

Camp’s call for the US to begin talks with China on a BIT comes one week before US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visit Beijing for high-level talks.

It also follows the Obama administration’s announcement on Friday last week that it had finished three years of internal deliberations on a so-called “model BIT,” which will be used as a template for future negotiations.

That has raised expectations China and the US could announce at next week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting that they are relaunching negotiations on an investment treaty. The administration of former US president George W. Bush began talks with China on a BIT, but they were put on hold after Obama took office in 2009.

“Business people have been telling the administration that this is important and that they have been waiting too long and they need to get moving on it,” said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, whose members include Boeing, Caterpillar and Microsoft.

Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative’s office, said the US-China meeting provided “an opportunity to discuss next steps on our negotiations now that the United States has released its new model BIT.”

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