Fri, Dec 17, 2010 - Page 10 News List

US and China announce series of trade agreements

AP, WASHINGTON

The administration of US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that two days of talks with a high-level delegation from China produced results that should benefit US companies ranging from manufacturers of computer software and wind turbines to beef producers.

The agreements touched on areas that have been the source of sharp discord between the two nations, including piracy of US intellectual property and China’s continued barriers to US beef.

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (駱家輝) told reporters he hopes this week’s deals will set the stage for even more extensive agreements when Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) visits Washington next month.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the Chinese had agreed to allow US beef exports back into China on a staged basis and he hoped the first shipments would be made early next year.

A team from the Department of Agriculture will visit China early next month in an effort to clear up remaining inspection issues, he said.

China imposed a ban on all beef imports from the US over concerns about mad cow disease a number of years ago. Beijing later lifted the outright ban but the US has been unable to overcome continued barriers involving the inspection of beef.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (王岐山) said that China had reaffirmed its desire to allow the resumption of US beef imports from animals under the age of 30 months.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he was happy with China’s commitments to boost government spending in the area of software purchases as a way to cut down on the use of pirated software.

The US side said that significant agreements had also been reached that should boost export sales by US wind turbine manufacturers and heavy equipment. In one agreement, China agreed to revise a catalog governments use to purchase heavy machinery and industrial machinery to make sure it does not discriminate against foreign suppliers.

The two countries also signed seven new deals covering such areas as agricultural trade, including US soybean exports to China, and the promotion of investment in the US.

The talks took place as the 21st session of the Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which was established in 1983, to provide a channel for both countries to address trade disputes. The panel does not cover one major area of disagreement at the moment, China’s currency policy.

US manufacturers say China is keeping its currency undervalued by as much as 40 percent to make Chinese goods cheaper in the US and American products more expensive in China.

While the JCCT discussions did not cover currency, the administration said that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner did address the issue in a separate meeting on Tuesday with Wang.

However, since Beijing pledged increased currency flexibility in June, the yuan has risen in value by only about 3 percent.

The US House passed legislation in September that would give the government more powers to impose tariffs against products from China and other countries found to be manipulating their currencies.

The Senate has yet to take up the legislation although supporters are vowing to get a vote on the issue before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

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