US, China make strides on key trade issues

U.S. trade officials said they made strides on several key economic issues during meetings in China this week.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Friday that they had reached agreements with Chinese officials on intellectual property rights, government procurement and regulatory issues.

The leaders met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and other top officials in Beijing at the annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

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"The JCCT results build on the progress made during Vice President Biden’s recent visit, as well as positive announcements resulting from China’s third plenum on promoting the reform and opening of China’s economy,” Froman said. 

“We still face many challenges, but the JCCT offers us a key tool for resolving important trade and investment issues."

Top U.S. officials including Biden and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have stopped in China on recent trips around the Pacific Rim to discuss a wide range of security and economic issues. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also was on hand during the discussions.

“We have made progress during these meetings, though we still have more work to do on critical issues to further our economic relationship,” Pritzker said. 

“I have been in business for 27 years, and I know first-hand how important it is to build relationships with your partners," she said.  

"China is a key partner on a broad range of issues, and their economic health is important to the global economy and the United States."

Meanwhile, President Obama nominated Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Friday to become U.S. Ambassador to China. 

During the talks, the two nations agreed that China will accelerate its plan to join the World Trade Organization agreement on government procurement and submit a revised offer next year.

China also agreed to ramp up its protection of intellectual property rights, which include stronger enforcement of violations. China's intellectual property agencies, courts and the legislature will receive technical assistance on strengthening the protection and enforcement of those rights.  

The United States and China committed to cooperate in 2014 on proposals to amend the trade secret law and on related legislative and policy issues. China is expected to give serious consideration to U.S. legislative reform proposals.

Both sides are aiming to resume U.S. beef exports by July.

On the travel front, China and the United States agreed to open the market for the sale of packaged group leisure travel from China to the U.S. to include Gansu and Qinghai provinces. 

The two nations will continue talks about increasing enforcement against counterfeit and substandard semiconductors, and also will aim to tackle the issue of bad faith trademark registrations. 

For 30 years, the JCCT has held high-level meetings to review progress made by working groups that focus on a wide variety of trade issues. 

China was the largest supplier of U.S. goods imports in 2012, and the third-largest market for U.S. exports in 2011 (after Canada and Mexico). U.S. goods exports to China amounted to $110 billion in 2012.