China, U.S. to start substantive BIT negotiations soon

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China and the United States agreed to start the substantive discussions of the China-U.S. Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) as soon as possible, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said here on Thursday.

"Investment is an important area of China-U.S. economic cooperation. It is a mutual concern of both parties, and both parties need to have creative thinking in order to create convenient conditions for the mutually beneficial cooperation between businesses of the two countries," Gao told reporters at a press briefing during the ongoing fifth round of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) starting on Wednesday.

"Both sides need to respect each other's concerns and pragmatically promote the negotiation of the BIT," stressed Gao.

Both sides jointly reviewed the progress made in the first nine rounds of BIT negotiations, clarified their notes on the technical terms of the treaty, and agreed to enter into a "substantive stage " of BIT negotiation as soon as possible, he said, without giving a specific timetable of the upcoming negotiations.

High-ranking economic and trade officials from both countries including Gao on Wednesday discussed a wide range of topics including the BIT negotiations, intellectual property rights protection and investment review during an economic track talk session.

China and the United States have been holding the annual S&ED talks since 2009 when Obama came to power, as a major channel of communication to enhance mutual trust, boost cooperation and properly handle differences.

Acting as special representatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi will co-chair the two-day dialogue with U.S. President Barack Obama's special representatives Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Wang and Lew will co-chair the economic track talks, while Yang and Kerry will co-host the strategic track talks. Endi

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