China and the United States should speed up negotiations to resolve thorny issues in areas such as national treatment in government procurement in order to reach a bilateral investment treaty, experts said on Monday.
Their comments came after the Ministry of Commerce announced on Sunday that treaty negotiations had made significant progress.
"China and the U.S. should complete BIT negotiations before November's U.S. presidential election to prevent potential political intervention," said Li Guanghui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.
Li said this could be challenging, as the presidential election campaign may create a tendency among candidates running for office to blame U.S. economic problems on other countries.
A bilateral investment treaty, or BIT, is an agreement signed between two countries or regions pertaining to cross-border investment. It assures foreign investors of nondiscriminatory treatment and protection against unwarranted expropriation.
"The road ahead is still very tough," said Zhang Jianping, director of the International Economic Cooperation Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission.
"The validation of the BIT can help both Chinese and U.S. companies operate businesses in each other's markets independently in the long term, instead of looking for local partners to form joint ventures," Zhang said.
He said this would give investors more flexibility to control their finances and make investment decisions. China and the U.S. held their 28th round of BIT talks in Beijing in August and have continued consultations to this week. Both sides exchanged new "negative list" offers, seeking to establish nondiscriminatory, transparent and open investment through negotiations, ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said on Sunday.
They conducted in-depth talks on remaining issues in the text of the agreement and reached a consensus on important issues, Sun said.
Both sides will continue intensive talks to advance negotiations and work to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, Sun said.
Negotiations began in 2008 to increase mutual investment.
By Zhong Nan