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China, U.S. conclude annual trade talks

China and the United States on Friday concluded their annual trade talks, agreeing to remove some trade barriers and build a foundation for the new model of major power relations.

"This is the first Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) since the new Chinese and U.S. administrations took office," Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said at the start of the meeting.

The U.S. delegation includes U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the JCCT, an annual forum launched in 1983 to address trade and investment issues.

"The JCCT has witnessed soaring bilateral trade, which has totaled 500 billion U.S. dollars this year from 4 billion U.S. dollars in 1983," Wang said.

Bilateral investment has increased to 100 billion U.S. dollars this year from 100 million U.S. dollars in 1983, Wang said.

Wang said the decision on reform approved by the third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in November will offer strong impetus to bilateral trade.

"We support statements from Chinese officials that indicate that China will move towards a system in which the market plays a decisive role," Pritzker said, calling for the reform decision to translate into tangible results at an early date.

Wang stressed the important role played by the JCCT in the past three decades, saying that "without the JCCT, any breakthrough or any resolution to the differences in bilateral trade would be impossible."

Wang called on the JCCT to help expand collaboration opportunities and build a solid foundation for the new model of major-power relations, which presidents of the two countries reached consensus on during their summit in June in California.

"We have the potential here today to demonstrate our two countries' ability to remove trade and investment barriers, increase openness and efficiency of our markets, and ensure the stable trade and investment relationship moves forward," Froman said at the opening session.

"Government and business leaders in the U.S. and around the world have expressed how the JCCT should play an important role in supporting shared growth and prosperity between the world's two largest economies," Pritzker said.

"As a former business leader, I believe strongly through close cooperation we can and should achieve mutually beneficial outcomes and tangible results," Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the U.S.-China relationship is "entering in a moment of opportunity" and that the two nations should "seize this moment by taking both short term and long-term steps that show we are pursuing a balanced and ever growing trade and investment relationship."

She suggested the two sides move forward in areas such as intellectual property rights, services liberalization, government procurement, agricultural and other market access and regulatory issues.

"It is important that we make progress. It is critical to the prosperity to the people of both China and the United States. We as leaders have the responsibility," she said.

The in depth discussions covered 40 topics in trade and investment and reached fruitful results, said the statement released by the Foreign Ministry after the talks.

Both sides agreed to sign a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in agriculture as soon as possible, said Chinese Vice Agriculture Minister Niu Dun at a press briefing.

They agreed on promoting China's cooked poultry exports to the United States and U.S. beef exports to China, said Niu.

They also reached agreement on business confidentiality, software, services, general manufacturing and electronic business, the statement said.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will provide 10 billion U.S. dollars to support China-U.S. cooperation on intellectual property rights, said Chinese Vice Commerce minister Wang Chao.

They also agreed on government procurement and fair treatment to Chinese business which invest in the United States.

China will submit a new government procurement bid to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2014, an effort to join the WTO agreement on government procurement, said Wang.

During the JCCT, the two sides agreed to encourage the civil high-tech U.S. exports to China, covering the areas of aerospace, information technology as well as oil and gas exploration, he said.

The U.S. high-tech export control is the main cause of trade imbalance between China and the U.S., said Wang, adding that China's imports of high-tech products from the U.S. continue to shrink in recent years.

U.S. high-tech exports to China have fallen from 18 percent to 7 percent of China's total high-tech imports in the past decade, he said.

High-tech exports limits have long been a thorny issue in China-U.S. trade. On Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged the United States to relax restrictions on high-tech exports to China and provide a good environment for Chinese businesses to invest in the United States.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 20Dec13]

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