Vol. 5 Num 400 Tue. July 12, 2005  

China, US open annual trade talks with deal expected

China and the United States opened annual high-level trade talks Monday with an agreement expected on a wide range of thorny issues including intellectual property, aviation and petrochemicals, officials said.

Attending the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) from the US side are Trade Representative Rob Portman, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

China's team is headed by Vice Premier Wu Yi.

The JCCT was set up in 1983 as a mechanism to help resolve trade concerns and pursue bilateral commercial opportunities. It was upgraded in 2003 to take on higher-level issues and outstanding disputes, according to the US trade representative's office.

Later Monday, the two sides will sign an agreement on a series of bilateral concerns that will also include trade in agriculture, bio-technology, banking and civil aviation, US embassy officials said.

"The agreement is aimed at the promotion of bilateral trade opportunities and the resolution of trade concerns," one US official told AFP.

Portman and Johanns are due to head on to a meeting of about 30 World Trade Organisation (WTO) members in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on Tuesday, which is aimed at energising negotiations on liberalising global commerce.

Portman said a top priority for the United States at the JCCT talks would be intellectual property rights (IPR), with US industry complaining about an epidemic of fake goods in China.

He credited Wu with making inroads against counterfeiters by pushing through comprehensive IPR legislation but insisted that China had to now enforce those rules.

"China must do more to significantly reduce infringement levels by increasing criminal prosecutions of IPR crimes, by better protecting US films, music, software and other products on the streets, in the stores and over the Internet, and by helping US small businesses secure and enforce their intellectual property rights in China," Portman said in a statement.

"I view the annual JCCT meeting as an opportunity to try to remove trade barriers, further open China's market to US exports and level the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses," he added.