China, US make trade progress

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times via agencies, December 17, 2010
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After concluding a high-level meeting in Washington DC Wednesday, top US and Chinese officials announced progress had been made on beef, software and other bilateral trade irritants, but Beijing maintained that Washington needed to loosen its own export controls, agencies reported.

Issuing a joint statement after the conclusion of the 21st Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said the two sides had "candid exchanges of views on China-US economic cooperation," according to Xinhua.

"We reached many agreements and produced a positive outcome," Wang told a press conference where he was joined by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

In compliance with its own quarantine requirements, China will resume the report of American beef under the age of 30 months, and will lift avian influenza-related bans on produce from Idaho and Kentucky.

China's market has been closed to US beef since 2003, when the first case of mad cow disease was found in the US. Reopening the Chinese market could reap "about $200 million in annual beef business," Joe Schuele, a spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation, told Reuters.

Wang also promised China would ramp up the fight against copyright piracy by promoting greater use of legal software, as well as tabling a revised offer to join the WTO's government procurement pact, according to Reuters.

Conversely, China called for the US to relax its export controls.

"In our efforts to increase our imports, we very much hope that countries with a trade deficit vis-à-vis China will lift or relax export controls towards China," Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said, according to AFP.

"Therefore, should the US offer substantial export facilitation to China and allow an increase of its exports to China, this would help mitigate the high unemployment rate in the US today," he said.

Chen said China "has stated again and again its firm position" on the reformation of the yuan, in order to "improve the flexibility of the exchange rate regime and also to stabilize the value of the currency."

Chen questioned whether the size of the US trade surplus had been overestimated, saying that China often exports finished products made of com-ponents imported from the US. Such trade "is hardly affected by the fluctuations of currencies," he said.

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