The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday called on the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies,to wrap up their investment treaty talks by the end of this year.

Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“China has become a huge and growing market for U.S. businesses, and Chinese investment in the United States has rapidly accelerated,” Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in opening remarks for the eighth annual China-U.S. CEO and Former Senior Officials’ Dialogue held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington D.C.

“But there are serious, and in some cases escalating, challenges that are undermining mutual trust and threaten to derail these positive trends” in the China-U.S. relations, Donohue said, adding that the two countries must advance a positive, constructive and achievable agenda to move forward the bilateral relationship.

That agenda includes completing negotiations for a high-standard, comprehensive bilateral investment treaty (BIT) by the end of this year, expanding commercial cooperation in key industry sectors and strengthening the global trading system, he said.

Donohue said the United States and China should also work together to “give the global economy an immediate boost” at the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China later this year, which is a great opportunity to advance a WTO agreement to end tariffs on environmental goods.

While there are a lot of issues that both countries have to sort out in the BIT talks, China and U.S. officials have repeatedly signaled willingness to finalize a deal before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves the White House in January 2017.

It will also be high on the agenda of the upcoming China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue scheduled early next month in Beijing.

A total of 24 rounds of BIT talks have been held since negotiations started in 2008 as both countries sought to increase mutual investment, which only accounted for a tiny share of their respective overseas investment.

The BIT is expected to continue to expand two-way trade and investment and cement the foundation of China-U.S. economic ties.

The China-U.S. CEO and Former Senior Officials’ Dialogue was initiated in Beijing in March 2011 with an aim to conduct non-governmental exchanges in bilateral economic relations.

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