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China, US reach deals on trade issues
Updated: 2004-04-22 09:41

China and the United States reached agreements on a number of contentious trade issues Wednesday during a meeting of the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and unveiled at a joint news conference with U.S. and Chinese officials.

US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans speaks at the beginning of a meeting with the head of the Chinese Delegation Vice Premier Wu Yi (L) and the rest of the delegation in the Commerce Building in Washington April 21, 2004. The meeting was for the Plenary Session of the 15th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, an annual government platform designed to develop and facilitate the China-US commercial relationship. [Reuters]

China pledged to take steps ranging from cracking down on copyright piracy, such as movies and computer programs, to opening up the country's goods distribution system to foreign firms.

Another set of agreements dealt with promises China made to ensure its adoption of new standards for wireless computer and mobile phone transmissions will be fair to U.S. companies.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick represented the United States. The 70-member Chinese delegation was led by Vice Premier Wu Yi.

"This is a landmark day and a very fruitful day in terms of the developing relationship between the United States and China," Evans said at a signing ceremony at the Commerce Department.

The head of the Chinese Delegation Vice Premier Wu Yi listens as US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans speaks at the beginning of a meeting with the rest of the Chinese delegation in the Commerce Building in Washington April 21, 2004. [Reuters] 
Administration officials had no estimate of how much impact the new trade deals would have on exports of U.S. manufactured goods to China.

The Chinese presented the United States with an action plan detailing steps it intended to take to crack down on what U.S. industry alleged is the rampant piracy and counterfeiting of American products. The plan included stiffer criminal penalties and promised nationwide enforcement actions.

China also pledged to accelerate the openning up of the distribution system by allowing U.S. companies to distribute their own products to Chinese stores without having to go through a state-owned distribution company.

For its part, the U.S. administration agreed to reconsiderate certain high-technology products that American companies are banned from exporting to China.

Evans said the list of banned products would be reviewed after U.S. officials are allowed to make visits to Chinese factories where the products will be used.

In the discussion on agricultural issues, China refused to lift its current bans on imports of American beef and American poultry imposed because of recent health concerns. However, it did lift a ban it had imposed in January on the importation of certain American cosmetics after receiving documentation that showed the products did not contain any animal-related ingredients prohibited in China.

Veneman expressed confidence that the beef and poultry bans would soon be fully lifted, and she predicted American farmers would continue to benefit from the removal of trade barriers since China entered the WTO in late 2001, a time period in which U.S. farm exports to China have tripled.

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