U.S. Welcomes China Pledges on Market Access, IPR Enforcement

By Todd Bullock
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The United States welcomes China's pledge to increase U.S. access to Chinese markets and improve enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR), says Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

"We still have much work to do but today's meeting was a positive step forward on a number of key issues," Gutierrez said April 11 at a press conference following a senior-level meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

The plenary session of the 17th JCCT was held in Washington and co-chaired by Gutierrez, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Rob Portman, and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi.  Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns also attended the talks.

The JCCT was established in 1983 as a forum for high-level dialogue on bilateral trade issues and a vehicle for promoting commercial relations. The United States uses the annual talks as a forum to identify and resolve trade problems as well as to expand commercial opportunities.

This round of talks comes one week before the scheduled arrival of China's President Hu Jintao for a meeting with President Bush at the White House.


China has agreed to reopen its market to U.S. beef and to lower some of the barriers facing U.S. companies in sectors such as telecommunications and medical devices, according to Gutierrez.

"This will remove a barrier to U.S. service providers who seek to compete with China," he said.

The commerce secretary said the United States and China also plan to establish a working group on the manufacturing of pharmaceutical ingredients as well as a dialogue on steel production.

Portman added: "Our message to China has been consistent and clear. American exporters, workers, farmers and service providers deserve the same access to Chinese markets as China has to our markets."

The United States recently completed an interagency "top-to-bottom" review of its trade with China and found that China must demonstrate greater accountability to its international commitments, including greater access for U.S. exports.  (See related article.)

"The Chinese have taken steps to ensure greater transparency in their economy," Gutierrez said, noting that China recently announced it would begin negotiations to join the World Trade Organization's government procurement agreement in December 2007. This agreement is designed to prevent discrimination against foreign companies in government contracts.

"For the first time, China is requiring all central, provincial and local governments to publish their trade-related measures in the central government's official gazette," Gutierrez said.


Regarding protection of intellectual property rights, Gutierrez said that China has closed a number of factories that produced pirated optical discs and is increasing overall enforcement of IPR laws.

Additionally, he said, the Chinese government agreed to clamp down on pirated software by allowing software to be preloaded onto computers before they are sold.

Vice Premier Wu Yi said the Chinese government planned to establish 50 IPR trial courts across China and 50 IPR Infringement Reporting Centers in cities across China.

"The real outcome of this meeting, of course, will be known when we see results," Gutierrez said.  "We will both be looking for results before the next annual meeting to bring additional equity and balance to the U.S.-China trade relationship."


Following the JCCT meeting, Agriculture Secretary Johanns signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Minister Li Changjiang of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to improve bilateral cooperation on animal and plant health and food safety.

"This memorandum of understanding will create a structure to enable us to address sanitary, phytosanitary and food safety issues before they become barriers to the thriving agricultural trade between our two countries," Johanns said.

Under the MOU, the two countries will exchange information on food regulation and standards, inspection and quarantine procedures and other issues such as pests and disease, harmful residues and food certification.

"China is an increasingly important market for U.S. food and agricultural products," said Johanns. "In 2005, U.S. farmers and ranchers sold more than $6 billion in agricultural products to China, making it our fifth largest export market."

See the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) fact sheet "The U.S. -China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Outcomes on U.S. Requests" and the news release "Johanns Signs Agreement with China on Food Safety and Plant and Animal Health."

For additional information, see East Asia and the Pacific and Protecting Intellectual Property Rights.