US Plans to Press China on Trade at Dec. 14-15 Meeting

December 2, 2010

The United States will press China to make a number of trade reforms to open its market to more U.S. goods and services at a high-level bilateral meeting this month, the U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The Dec. 14-15 U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting “provides an important opportunity for us to address key trade issues such as intellectual property rights, government procurement and innovation polices with the goal of supporting our global competitiveness, increasing U.S. exports and creating jobs in the United States,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.

The high-level annual bilateral forum caps a year of friction between the two countries over China’s currency policy and helps set the stage for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in January.

Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will co-chair the meeting for the United States, while Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan heads up China’s delegation.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will also take part in the talks, reflecting both the importance of China’s huge market to U.S. farmers and their frustration over China’s restrictions on some U.S. farm goods like beef.

U.S. officials are likely to hear concern from China over proposed U.S. legislation that would allow the Commerce Department to treat currency “undervaluation” as a subsidy under U.S. trade law.

That bill, passed by the House in September and pending in the Senate, is aimed mainly at China.

Many U.S. manufacturers complain Beijing undervalues its currency by 15 percent to 40 percent to give its companies an unfair price advantage in international trade.

U.S. companies are looking for progress on a host of other concerns, including China’s “indigenous innovation” policies, which could require foreign companies to develop new patents and other intellectual property in China to order to win lucrative government procurement contracts.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Todd Eastham)

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