Top White House officials heading to China

Top Obama administration officials are heading to China next week to discuss a broad range of economic and trade issues.

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Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will travel to Beijing to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang as they head up the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) on Dec. 19-20.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also is making the trip.

"The JCCT continues to provide an important platform to address wide-ranging issues in our bilateral trade relationship with China," Froman said.

Froman said U.S. and Chinese officials have focused this year on making progress in a number of areas, including enforcement of intellectual property rights, market access and the removal of regulatory barriers.

"We are working hard to ensure a fair trading environment for our top quality U.S. exports that support important jobs at home," he said. 

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Vice President Biden are among the other top White House officials who have recently traveled to China and around the Asia-Pacific region to underscore the administration’s commitment to improving its economic relationships with Pacific Rim nations and to reiterate the U.S. role as a Pacific power.

"The JCCT is a critical component of U.S. engagement in Asia and an important mechanism in our efforts to further build on the U.S.-China bilateral relationship," Pritzker said.

"The high-level JCCT meeting is the capstone of a year of work, and we are eager to engage with our counterparts on issues of mutual importance."

At $110 billion, China was the third-largest market for U.S. exports in 2012 — after Canada and Mexico — and that amount is 583 percent higher than 2000. 

“America’s farmers and ranchers are extremely productive and they are ready to build on five years of record U.S. agricultural exports,” Vilsack said.

Last year's meeting was in Washington.