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Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Evans pushes China on piracy

TRADE TIES The US commerce secretary said Beijing must do more to battle counterfeiting and said contracts he inked were proof of strong commercial bonds

REUTERS AND AFP , BEIJING

US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans and US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao pretend to be driving while sitting in car seats at a factory of Johnson Controls Co, a US auto-part manufacturer, in Beijing, yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

The US urged China yesterday to wage a wider war against rampant patent and copyright piracy as it sought ways to reduce a growing trade imbalance that has become an election issue in the US.

Beijing needed to do much more to battle counterfeiting that had seriously harmed US firms and workers, US Secretary of Commerce Don Evans told reporters during a four-day visit to China.

"There needs to be much more efforts, much more resources put into the protection of intellectual property rights across the country," Evans told reporters during a visit to a factory in a Beijing suburb.

The Chinese authorities needed to do more at the provincial and city levels, he said, two months after Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi (吳儀) pledged during meetings with Evans in Washington to intensify a crackdown on counterfeiting.

China's own State Council has estimated the market value of counterfeit goods in China at about US$19 billion to US$24 billion annually. The bogus trade affects a wide range of US products, including films, music, publishing, software, pharmaceuticals, information technology and automotive parts.

Washington also hoped to do more to reduce its trade deficit with the world's fourth-biggest trading nation, which hit a record US$124 billion last year and is expected to head higher.

"In the first four months of this year the trade deficit continued to grow, so we need to continue to work on ways to reduce those trade barriers," Evans said.

He also reiterated Washington's desire to see the yuan liberalized.

"We think it's very important to have a flexible, market-driven exchange rate. That coupled with free trade and free flow of capital," he said.

"There is a working group between the United States and China working on that and we will continue to work for it," he said.

Investors have speculated China may make the yuan more flexible as early as this year by pegging it to a basket of foreign currencies and letting it move more freely, a step many analysts expect would lead the currency to strengthen. Analysts say China will only do so in its own time, rather than bow to foreign pressure.

Evans also oversaw the signing of a series of deals between US and Chinese business yesterday, including an agreement by General Electric, the world's biggest maker of turbines, to sell two electric transfer systems to China Southern Power Grid Co.

Honeywell Inc, meanwhile, agreed to supply environmentally friendly refrigerants and other chemicals to home appliance maker Haier. No terms of the deals were given.

"These partnerships will grow American jobs and contribute to America's economic development," Evans said.

"These signings are an example of the strong commercial bonds being forged between the United States and China," he said

Also signed yesterday was a deal with United Solar Ovonic and Dawson International to provide and install a 300-kilowatt solar photovoltaic lighting system in the Beijing New Capital Museum.

Evans was scheduled to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) yesterday for talks that will also include US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao who is in Beijing.

Today, Evans will meet separately with Vice Premier Wu Yi (吳儀), Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan (曾培炎) and Commerce Minister Bo Xilai (薄熙來) following a breakfast speech with US businesspeople.

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