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US suspension of ITA talks is disappointing, minister says

Updated: 2013-11-25 15:23
By Li Jiabao (

Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said the move by the United States to suspend negotiations for expanding the Information Technology Agreement not only surprised China but also disappointed participants who would have benefited from the talks, according to a statement on the ministry's website on Monday.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman said on Thursday that China's demands to exempt more than 100 products from the technology trade deal risked leading to a breakdown in the negotiations.

Gao said that it is normal for participants to have different claims during the talks because of different development levels. But the US demands far exceeded what was acceptable to Chinese industries, which "is the prime cause for the negotiations not concluding in an agreement".

He added that the US refused to make any concessions owing to pressure from its industries who had a significant competitive edge. The US overlooked appeals from Chinese enterprises in weak positions and ignored the huge gap between the two countries, which is "unacceptable to China".

"It is irresponsible for the US to give up the consensus that has been agreed by most of the countries only because the deal cannot meet its own requirements for several products," Gao said in the statement.

Since September 2012, China has been actively pushing forward negotiations to expand the ITA and adjusted its domestic industries, Gao said. Major participants, including China, have reached consensus on about 200 items with a global trade value worth $2.77 trillion.

The ITA talks aim to expand a 16-year-old World Trade Organization agreement and update it to cover the Internet era, cutting the import costs of items like personal computers, laptops, telephones, fax machines, computer software and semi-conductors.