U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang recently led the sixth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) held in Beijing. This year’s talks, the first since the Chinese government released its reform agenda during its Third Plenum meeting last fall, come during a period of rising tensions between the two countries. Both sides reiterated commitments to pushing forward market-based reforms in China and finding areas for “win-win” cooperation. However, issues such as market access for U.S. companies, cybersecurity concerns, currency and IPR policy remained points of contention. Milestones projected during bilateral talks are often lofty and it remains to be seen what concrete actions will be taken moving forward. Keeping this in mind, however, there are a few key takeaways that can be gathered from the results of this year’s talks:

  1. Overall, A Positive Tone: There is a clear recognition on both sides of the importance of the economic relationship between the U.S. and China, who both vowed to engage in in-depth communication, meet each other halfway, and expand common ground. Ninety outcomes are being touted as the results of this year’s talks with some more obtainable than others.
  2. Commitment to a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT): Negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty between China and the U.S. have been in the works since 2008. During the S&ED, both sides agreed to reach agreement on the main article of the text of the BIT by the end of 2014 and hope to start negotiations on the negative list by 2015. This is also the first time China has agreed to negotiate a BIT that includes all stages of investment and sectors.
  3. Third Plenum Reform as Leverage: The joint fact sheet, which serves as the text of agreed upon points between both sides, at time borrows directly from the language of the Third Plenum reform document, for example, calling on China to “deepen economic reform by allowing the market to play a decisive role in the allocation of resources.” According to remarks made during the debriefing, U.S. government officials are looking to shape the implementation of Third Plenum reforms in order to benefit the U.S. economy.

Relevant Reading:

UPDATED: U.S.-China Joint Fact Sheet Sixth Meeting of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, U.S. Department of Treasury, July 11

Joint U.S.-China Press Statements at the Conclusion of the Strategic & Economic Dialogue, U.S. Department of State, July 10

The China-US S&ED Reach Multiple Outcomes, Caixin (Chinese), July 10

Bruce Fu
Bruce Fu

Bruce Fu is a director in APCO Worldwide's Beijing office and co-lead of APCO's global Technology practice. He has deep expertise in investment and government relations in China and the region's IPR and competition-related issues. Read More