Sino-US trade talks to tackle IPR and beef
Updated: 2010-12-14 10:04
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
WASHINGTON - The two-day annual US-China trade talks, which start on Tuesday in Washington, will try to ease tension and seek more cooperation in bilateral economic development, especially in intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, trade and investment policies.
It will also pave the way for President Hu Jintao's state visit to the United States in January, which will set the tone for bilateral ties for the coming years.
US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk will co-chair the 21st session of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan. US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will also join the dialogue.
The US Department of Commerce said that last year, China was the largest supplier of imports to the United States and the third-largest market for US exports after Canada and Mexico.
A wide range of topics - from IPR, trade, agriculture, telecommunication, medical devices, investments and travel - will be covered in addition to a review of the progress made by more than a dozen working groups.
China has been trying to get the US to recognize its market economy status for years through this platform and it will remain on the top of its agenda.
When it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, China agreed that members could deny its market economy status until 2016. The US is among a few countries that have not granted China the status. Without it, Chinese traders are vulnerable to anti-dumping charges launched by trading partners.
Locke said the talks would address issues "with the goal of supporting our global competitiveness, increasing US exports and creating jobs in the US".
Kirk said the JCCT is a "key mechanism" to address critical trade priorities. "Our mature trade relationship requires that we use all of the tools at our disposal to confront the challenges we face and to ensure that our trade with China generates the benefits we need for American workers, farmers, and businesses both small and large."
US analysts expect some breakthroughs in IPR and US beef exports to China.
In an unusual move, 32 US senators sent a letter to Wang on Dec 6 to press China to show "concrete progress" on beef, intellectual property and other issues at the talks.
Philip Levy, a scholar from American Enterprise Institute, told China Daily that Washington is eager to remove barriers to beef exports. Due to the discovery of mad cow disease in US cattle in 2003, several countries, including China, closed their markets to US beef. The US has been campaigning to reopen those markets.
"It is possible that, in light of the exclusion of beef from the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the US will need for political reasons to make beef a priority at the JCCT," said Derek Scissors, a trade expert from the Heritage Foundation.
"If so, that should be an easy agreement for the two sides to reach."
The JCCT, established in 1983, is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade matters and promoting commercial opportunities.
At last year's meeting in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Beijing agreed to reopen its market to US pork and to remove barriers for US companies to China's growing clean-energy market.
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