- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The United States and China yesterday struck broad trade agreements that would give U.S. companies greater access to the fast-growing Asian market and would protect their goods and ideas from counterfeiting or piracy.

U.S.-China disagreements on trade had been mounting, with Chinese exports to the United States rapidly outpacing imports, many Americans’ blaming the Asian nation for job losses at home and China upset with U.S. efforts to throw up new trade barriers.

Agreements struck yesterday would defuse some of the tensions if fully implemented.

“Of course the ultimate test is delivering results,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick.

A series of letters sketched out frameworks to resolve disputes but sent some details to working groups for fine tuning and monitoring results.

Mr. Zoellick, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman met with Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi during the annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Washington to hammer out the separate agreements.

The U.S. trade deficit with China last year was a record $124 billion. At the same time, China is a fast-growing market for American exporters, and U.S. officials said they wanted to continue that trend rather than slow Chinese imports.

“We have been getting our exports up, that is our goal,” said a U.S. trade official, who asked not to be named. The official would not say whether yesterday’s agreements would help narrow the trade deficit.

The agreement to combat piracy and counterfeiting was hailed by industry groups as the agreement with greatest potential.

“We were very encouraged by what we saw as some important, substantive commitments by the Chinese, particularly on intellectual property and efforts to stop counterfeiting. We will want to see whether the Chinese really deliver on these in the months ahead,” said Bill Primosch, director of international business policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, an industry group.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a coalition for U.S. industries, said in 2003, piracy of software, music, books and motion pictures in China cost American firms almost $2.6 billion in lost revenues. U.S. pharmaceutical, fashion and other industrial and consumer-goods manufacturing firms also are concerned that their products get knocked off and sold under valuable brand names.

China yesterday committed to increase criminal penalties and spend more resources on intellectual-property enforcement by the end of the year.

Other agreements include promises to pass laws that allow U.S. firms to export their goods to China without using Chinese middlemen and to distribute goods in stores throughout the country.

China also agreed to delay indefinitely the implementation of technological standards for wireless networks that would have hurt U.S. firms such as Intel and to broaden standards that would allow U.S. telecommunications firms to better compete in the wireless market.

The United States also ceded some ground, agreeing to ease restrictions on sale to China of high-tech products that have military uses and backing away from an earlier request to limit clothing imports from China.

“We are willing to do our utmost to seek balanced trade,” Miss Wu said.

For express-delivery firms like Federal Express, China agreed not to widen a monopoly on services by its national postal service. And China also agreed to resume trade in some beef products — bull semen, embryos and tallow — a minor victory for U.S. cattlemen since a case of mad cow disease late last year shut down most exports.

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