China has agreed to crack down on copyright piracy of American computer
programs and lift a ban on U.S. beef as part of an effort to reduce a record
$202 billion (euro166.87 billion)trade gap, the Bush administration said
The agreements were two of several made by China during a high-level meeting
designed to reduce trade tensions in advance of next week's U.S. visit by
Chinese President Hu Jintao.
"Our message to China has been consistent and clear," US. Trade
Representative Rob Portman said at a joint news conference. "American exporters,
workers, farmers and service providers deserve the same access that China has to
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said at the direction of top Chinese officials,
China has been working earnestly to increase imports from the United States.
"All in all, China welcomes more American products to enter the Chinese
market," she said through a translator. "The Chinese market is open."
Wu noted that she is traveling with a delegation of more than 200 Chinese
business executives with the expectation that they will sign 107 contracts to
buy $16.2 billion (euro13.4 billion) in U.S. products.
Included in that is a deal to purchase 80 commercial airliners from Boeing
Co., at a list price of $4.6 billion (euro3.8 billion)
The administration said that in the area of piracy, the Chinese agreed to
require that computers use legal software and to step up enforcement of
intellectual property rights. They also pledged to close Chinese optical disk
plants that are producing pirated CDs and DVDs.
In her comments, Wu said regulations would be issued stipulating that all
computers sold in China must have legal operating systems.
Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said China had agreed to reopen its
market to U.S. beef after clearing up some remaining technical issues.
"We both committed to work closely together to do this quickly," he said at
the conclusion of the annual meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on
Commerce and Trade.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns refused to give reporters a specific
estimate of how quickly the remaining roadblocks could be cleared to resume the
beef exports to China. However, he believed it could be done long before the end
of this year.
The administration has been pushing the Chinese for greater commitments to
deal with trade barriers, which U.S. firms contend are costing them billions of
dollars in lost sales, and to stop holding down the value of their currency in
relation to the dollar.
The administration is under growing political pressure to show progress in
dealing with a soaring trade deficit with China that critics say has contributed
to the loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000.
The administration said China also agreed to begin negotiations to join an
agreement administered by the World Trade Organization that governs that
standards foreign companies must meet when bidding for government contracts.
Gutierrez said China would submit its proposal on how it would follow the WTO
procedures no later than the end of 2007.
This was critical for companies that hoped to break into China's multibillion
market for government contracts.
The National Association of Manufacturers said the package of commitments
represented "incremental contributions" to solving the trade gap between the two
"As helpful as these individual steps are, they need to be followed by
systemic changes that will put our trade relationship on a more fair basis,"
said Frank Vargo, the organization's vice president.
Vargo said his group was hopeful that the Bush-Hu meeting next week would
produce a breakthrough in a long-standing dispute over China's currency system.
On Monday, Bush said he would raise the currency issue with Hu at the meeting
a week from Thursday.
"He's coming into a country where there's over a $200 billion trade deficit,
and a lot of Americans are wondering where's the equity in trade," Bush said. "I
think he could help the Americans understand the importance of a free-trading
world if he were to maybe make a statement on his currency, for example."
The administration has been lobbying China for more than two years to allow
its currency to rise in value against the U.S. dollar. American manufacturers
contend China unfairly depresses the value of its currency to make Chinese goods
cheaper in America and U.S. products more expensive in China.