U.S. Team To Discuss Intellectual Property Protection with China

By Todd Bullock
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The Bush administration is sending trade negotiators to China to discuss that country's progress on improving enforcement of intellectual property rights, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced February 24.

In a conference call with the press, USTR general counsel Jim Mendenhall said he would lead a team that is scheduled to meet with Chinese officials in Beijing March 1 to gather information on the Chinese government's efforts to combat the rampant piracy of U.S. copyrighted material.

"Part of our intent is to determine what information the Chinese government has available on intellectual property enforcement and how they can most easily present it to us," he said.

Although optimistic about the upcoming trip, Mendenhall cautioned that if the Chinese are unable to provide sufficient information on their efforts, "it will demonstrate a lack of commitment on their part in seeking a resolution on this issue."


Additionally, the trade team will try to resolve a dispute involving high tariffs that the Chinese are imposing on U.S. auto parts, which the United States contends is a violation of WTO rules. (See related article.)

If a Chinese-manufactured vehicle does not contain a certain amount of domestic auto parts, any imported auto parts used are assessed an additional charge, according to Mendenhall.

"Without progress on both the piracy and the auto parts dispute, the United States will consider filing trade cases against China before the World Trade Organization," he said. "We are running out of options short of a more formal process to move this forward."

Other cases against China are possible in 2006, he added, but the United States is not currently planning a WTO complaint against Beijing's practice of tying its currency to the U.S. dollar at a set rate.  (See related article.)

For additional information on U.S. policies, see The United States and China and Protecting Intellectual Property Rights.