Warning that disruptions in China’s economy would have global consequences, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew today said there are “encouraging” signs of Chinese leadership contributing more resources to address global trade, development and climate change challenges.
“In recent years our countries have been the primary engines of global economic growth. As the world’s second- largest economy, disruptions in China can have negative consequences on the rest of the world, including here in the United States,” Lew said.
Lew said over the past year, China rattled global markets as exchange rate policy changes raised questions about how it would manage the transition to a more sustainable growth rate.
And as China continues to grow, it is more important than ever that US companies have the ability to compete on a level playing field-both within China and globally, he said.
“We need to challenge China’s policies that disadvantage our firms and workers, whether they are currency practices, trade barriers, or excess capacity in industrial sectors,” he said.
Lew said in recent years, China has committed to a variety of steps to open its economy and level the playing field to the American business community, including improved transparency on regulatory measures.
“But we continue to raise concerns about the general climate in China for US businesses,” he said.
China has made a number of important commitments with regard to intellectual property rights, including, equitable treatment for foreign intellectual property and vigorous investigation and prosecution of trade secret theft, but more work remains.
A high-standard bilateral investment treaty (BIT) would strengthen the climate for American businesses in China, but this remains a work in progress, he noted.
“Signs are encouraging that China is ready to shoulder greater responsibility and contribute more resources to address global trade, development, and climate change challenges,” Lew said.
China has the opportunity to build upon the progress in the WTO on the Information Technology Agreement by showing leadership in advancing an Environmental Goods Agreement, he said.
China has indicated that it intends to embed high standards of the existing international financial institutions into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank , while working to continuously improve those standards.
It is critical that China deliver on that promise, he added.
It is also critical that China be willing to embrace these same high standards of governance and transparency in its own initiatives, such as the “One Belt One Road” and its “South-South Climate Cooperation Fund”.
This will be important in further establishing China’s reputation as a contributor to responsible leadership on the global stage, Lew asserted.