US officials see progress in China trade talks

[WASHINGTON] The United States and China wrapped up high-level trade talks Thursday in Chicago, with US officials hailing progress in a range of areas including medicines, intellectual property rights and agriculture.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said the two sides had "very productive" talks in the annual high-level forum aimed at addressing bilateral trade and investment issues between the world's two largest economies.

At a post-meeting news conference, Pritzker acknowledged that the US side did not get everything it wanted, saying "not all outcomes are perfect," but she said the 25th US-China Joint Commission on Comerce and Trade reflected "renewed spirit and effort." Representing the US side with Pritzker at the JCCT was the top US trade envoy, US Trade Representative Michael Froman. The Chinese delegation was headed by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang.

Pritzker highlighted China's agreement to ease access for imports of US pharmaceutical and medical devices. She said China agreed to streamline the regulatory process, cut red tape on imports and "deal with the backlog." The agreement should lead to increases in exports and jobs in both US sectors, she said. The pharmaceutical sector employs 810,000 people and currently has US$1.2 billion in exports to China.

The medical device industry supports 1.9 million US jobs and has US$2.7 billion worth of exports to the world's second-largest economy.

"We think our pharmaceutical and medical devices outcome is very significant," Pritzker said.

Private US and Chinese businesses participated in the forum for the first time, in what Pritzker called a "reimagined" JCCT that she said helped drive results.

The commerce secretary noted strides made with China on anti-competition and monopoly law issues, saying the US was "pleased with the progress we made." China agreed to publish results of administrative proceedings and, "under normal circumstances," allow US firms to have counsel present and confer with them during a proceeding, she said.

Among other areas where agreements were reached were a mutual commitment to treat intellectual property the same, steps to combat unregulated fishing, and an easing of requirements on US agriculture imports to China that will particularly benefit corn and soybean farmers, officials said.

There were no details about the agreements immediately available from the Commerce Department.


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