* China agreed to address U.S. concerns about piracy and
* U.S. pledged Chinese firms fair treatment in security
reviews of investment plans
By Doug Palmer and Paul Eckert
WASHINGTON, Dec 19 After a year of clashes on
trade and investment issues, senior U.S. and Chinese officials
on Wednesday touted progress on a number of commercial irritants
as a sign of the commitment both countries have to building a
China agreed to take further steps to address U.S. concerns
about widespread piracy and counterfeiting of American-made
goods by strengthening enforcement of intellectual property
rights and promoting the use of legal software by state-owned
banks and state-owned enterprises, Chinese Commerce Minister
Chen Deming told reporters after the meeting.
Such pledges are a staple of the annual U.S.-China Joint
Commission on Commerce and Trade, but U.S. officials said it was
important to keep up steady pressure on the issue because of the
big potential payoff for U.S. firms.
"Some of these issues may seem a bit esoteric, but they can
make the difference between millions, billions of dollars of new
exports and jobs being retained here at home," U.S. Trade
Representative Ron Kirk told reporters.
The past year has been a particularly bumpy one for the
U.S.-China trade relationship, with the United States initiating
a number of trade complaints against China at the World Trade
Organization and slapping duties on high-value Chinese exports
such as solar cells and wind turbine towers.
During the recent U.S. presidential campaign, both President
Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney also argued
about who would do a better job of standing up to Beijing and
fighting for U.S. jobs.
Chen said the United States made commitments in Wednesday's
meeting to promote exports of high-technology goods to China and
promised Chinese companies fair treatment when their plans to
invest in the United States are reviewed for national security
China has long pressed the United States to ease is
restrictions on exports of high-technology goods, and the Obama
administration is in the process of a comprehensive reform
effort that is expected to make it easier for many countries,
including China, to buy those items from American firms.
However, acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said that
would not apply to items on the U.S. munitions list because the
United States does not allow arms exports to China.
JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
Some recent Chinese investments in the United States have
been rejected on national security grounds, although U.S.
officials say most projects are welcomed with open arms as a
source of new jobs and economic growth.
The JCCT is an annual forum launched in 1983 for the two
countries to address trade and investment concerns.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce official Jamie Waterman said
agriculture was a key concern for this year's talks, on a U.S.
laundry list that includes barriers to market access,
enforcement of intellectual property rights and government
In agriculture, "the absence of product approvals for
roughly a year is a serious concern and has the potential to
create real challenges for China," he said.
The head of the Chinese delegation, Vice Premier Wang
Qishan, said this week's JCCT convened in Washington amid a
complicated global economy with multiple factors pointing to
continue slower growth.
"Preserving growth, employment and stability will be the
chief duty of every country," said Wang. He urged the two powers
to use the talks to address mutual concerns and "avoid the
politicization of trade issues."
With ongoing leadership transitions in Beijing and
Washington it was important that working-level officials hold up
"the JCCT as one of the pillars of stability in this
relationship," said Kirk.
"The true success of this plenary will be judged by those
who rely on the JCCT to deliver measurable results that help
stabilize and enhance our trade and investment relationships,"
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who also attended
the talks, noted that they came at a moment of "transition" for
Obama is expected to bring in a new economic team for his
second term, which begins in January.
Meanwhile, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping took over the
leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in November and will
become head of state at March at the annual parliament meeting.