(Adds statements from Locke, Kirk and Vilsack)
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The United States will press China to crack down on piracy of U.S. goods and open its market to more U.S. farmers, manufacturers and service companies at high-level talks next week, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
“It is critical that we make progress on several priority issues, including intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, clean energy, medical devices and pharmaceuticals,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.
Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be in Hangzhou, China, on Oct. 28-29 for the 20th meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the main bilateral forum for addressing trade and investment matters.
The United States has been pressing China for years to stop widespread piracy of U.S. movies, music, software and other intellectual property goods.
In one recent example of the problem, pirated copies of Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) new operating system, Windows 7, were on sale in China last week before the legitimate version was even released. They sold in shops in Shanghai for about $3 a copy — a fraction of list prices as high as $320.
Locke and Kirk are the U.S. co-chairs for the forum, which is headed on the Chinese side by Vice Premier Wang Qishan.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will also attend the talks and meet with his Chinese counterpart.
“American farmers and ranchers recognize the benefits of our economic engagement with China, but they also rightly seek great equity and balance in our trade relationship,” Vilsack said.
The United States will press China to remove restrictions on U.S. beef and pork imports and discuss steps Washington is taking to remove poultry import barriers Beijing has challenged at the World Trade Organization, U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition that they not be identified, declined to say whether Kirk and Locke would raise concerns about China’s exchange rate policies next week.
But “obviously, currency is part and parcel of our overall economic relationship with China,” a USTR official said.
The United States will have a better idea of what specific outcomes to expect after further talks with China in preparation for the meeting, they said.
But the United States wants China to speed up its talks to join the WTO’s government procurement agreement and give U.S. telecommunication, insurance and other firms increased opportunity in the Chinese market, they said.
Another priority is removing Chinese regulatory barriers to importation of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, they said.
The U.S. trade deficit with China fell 15 percent in the first eight months of 2009, compared with the same period last year, as the U.S. recession took a steep toll on consumer and business demand.
But the U.S trade gap with China remains higher than with any other country and it has fallen less this year than the trade gap with other major trading partners.
“As we look to the next 20 years of our relationship with China, our successful engagement must include strong and smart U.S. trade policy,” Kirk said. (Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama )