Group urges long-term vision for U.S.-China trade, investment

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:59am EST

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WASHINGTON Jan 30 (Reuters) - A U.S. business group called on the United States and China on Wednesday to develop a long-term plan to address trade and investment concerns and to tackle cybersecurity threats that could undermine their relations.

"Both governments should explore an economic liberalization framework that would comprehensively address opportunities and challenges in the relationship, rather than approach them incrementally," the U.S.-China Business Council's board of directors said in its 2013 policy recommendations.

"At a time of transition for both governments, there may be an opportunity to develop a broader, long-term strategic vision of the bilateral economic and commercial relationship," the group said. It represents leading U.S. companies that invest or do business in China.

U.S. President Barack Obama began his second term in January and has been bringing new faces into his administration, including Senator John Kerry who was confirmed as Secretary of State on Tuesday.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping took over as head of the country's Communist Party in November and will become China's president in March. That is also creating change in key Chinese government positions.

The report's 28 recommendations include cracking down on commercial espionage over the Internet, which has become a growing concern for U.S companies.

"The U.S. and Chinese governments should pledge to stop commercial-focused cyber intrusions and take active steps to cooperate in curbing this activity," the group said.

The report also called for action to encourage Chinese investment in the United States and to reduce foreign ownership restrictions in China.

A Bilateral Investment Treaty "provides one of the best opportunities to reduce investment barriers in both countries," the group said. "Both governments should seek to conclude a BIT ... as quickly as possible."

The group urged the U.S. Export-Import Bank to increase financing support for U.S. exports to China.

In a nod to one of Beijing's longstanding priorities, the report called on the Obama administration to continue reform of U.S. export restrictions on high-technology projects, including faster action on non-controversial items.

The group also recommended stronger Chinese action to protect U.S. intellectual property rights and reform of Chinese licensing requirements that are a major obstacle to U.S. companies doing business in China. (Reporting By Doug Palmer; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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