Business leaders call for completion of China investment treaty

More than 50 business leaders on Wednesday called on President Obama to make the completion of a bilateral investment treaty the focus of meetings next month in China. 

The 51 U.S. chief executives sent a letter to the White House supporting a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and asking the president to make such discussions a high priority with China's President Xi Jinping in November.

"The commercial relationship between the United States and China is enormously important to our companies and the health of the American economy," they wrote.

"Getting this commercial relationship right — by expanding the opportunities and effectively addressing the challenges — will help maintain American economic strength and leadership in the decades ahead."

They said it is time to move ahead and conclude the treaty text negotiations and then begin work early next year on ensuring China includes a narrow list of excluded sectors.

"If China can significantly reduce its negative list and open markets to American manufacturers, agriculture producers, and service providers, you will find the business community fully engaged and supportive of your leadership to gain Senate approval of the treaty," they wrote. 

U.S.-China Business Council President John Frisbie, whose group is spearheading the CEOs' effort, said the letter represents a "strong message" from business leaders.

"Completing a high-standard U.S.-China BIT will have a significant and lasting impact on the trajectory of the U.S.-China commercial relationship and a more equitable commercial framework to guide the relationship forward,” Frisbie said.

Companies that signed on to the letter include Coca-Cola, Walt Disney and others.