BOAO, Hainan, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Talks over the China-U.S. bilateral investment treaty (BIT) are nearing completion with most key issues resolved, former Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said Wednesday.
Both sides have agreed in principle to take disputes between host countries and investors to third party arbitration at the World Bank, Chen told the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province.
The treaty is vital for free and easy investment, a key aspect of economic vitality, Chen said. The BIT will help Chinese companies invest overseas and fit better in the global value chain, he added.
A total of 24 rounds of talks have been held since negotiations started in 2008. The treaty is regarded as a big boost to Sino-U.S. ties after China became the biggest trading partner of the United States last year, with trade volume reaching nearly 560 billion U.S. dollars.
"Sino-U.S. trade has grown large in volume, but bilateral investment is still trudging a muddy path," said Song Hailiang, president of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. (ZPMC), a Chinese manufacturer of heavy-duty equipment, calling for the treaty to be signed soon.
Merit Janow, dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, said China is very open to foreign investment when considered among all developing countries, and that big progress has been made in this regard, though some sectors are not yet fully opened.
The treaty will not only greatly benefit companies of both countries but also help rebuild confidence of the world economy, Janow said.
At the conclusion of China's annual legislative session last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China will give American investors wider access to the Chinese market and that it is hoped the United States will do the same when mentioning the ongoing BIT negotiation.