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U.S. and Chinese Delegations Conclude 25th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

December 19, 2014

Agreement reached in several areas of importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers

Chicago, IL –– U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which took place in Chicago. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement.

Specific outcomes of today’s meetings are described below.

Today’s negotiations followed a full day of events designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the U.S. and China in a reinvigorated JCCT. Yesterday’s program included a roundtable discussion on bilateral investment hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Paulson Institute; a luncheon to celebrate the Gateway Cities partnership hosted by World Business Chicago; a cooperative travel and tourism program hosted by the U.S. Travel Association; and a discussion on developing a shared vision of economic leadership hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus also participated in this year’s JCCT.

“The JCCT is the time and place for the U.S. and China to address issues of mutual concern so we can get more business done between our two countries,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “While we enjoy a robust trade relationship with China – our exports were $161 billion in 2013 – there is more we can do to facilitate greater cooperation between our governments and our private sectors. This year we sought to ‘reimagine’ the JCCT to engage businesses from both countries in a dialogue about how to strengthen the trade and investment relationship between the world’s two largest economies, and we made significant progress.”

“This year’s JCCT produced concrete results. We achieved progress on tough issues that American exporters face in our largest export market outside North America,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “The benefits will be felt around the country, in our agricultural heartland, in high-tech from medicines to semiconductors, in the creative industries, and in many other sectors that support good-paying jobs across our economy.”

“The vice ministerial-level Strategic Agricultural Innovation Dialogue that we agreed to will begin early next year with multiple Chinese ministries,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These discussions will showcase U.S. innovation and create new economic opportunities in a wide range of agricultural industries, while addressing food security, climate change and environmental protection.”

The JCCT holds high-level plenary meetings on an annual basis to review progress made by 16 working groups that meet throughout the year to focus on a wide variety of trade issues. These working groups address topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, tourism, commercial law, environment and statistics.

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. The 2013 JCCT meeting was held in Beijing.

Overview of JCCT Outcomes

Through sustained engagement over the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers, including in the following areas:

  • Agriculture market access: China has made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China. Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn ­– current annual U.S. exports of soybeans and corn to China total $14 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively – and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China. China also agreed to strong IP protections for products that use trademarks or common names like "parmesan" or "feta" cheese, which in recent years have begun to demonstrate a potential for rapid export growth vis-à-vis China.
  • IPR protection: China's IPR-related commitments cover a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, in the area of trade secrets, building on prior bilateral commitments made by China, the United States has gained China’s agreement to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets and to work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance their protections. The United States also has secured China’s agreement to, among other things, bring new focus to the two countries’ work together to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China.
  • Innovation policies: The United States continued to pursue changes to Chinese policies and practices that have pressured foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property rights to enterprises in China. For example, China committed to ensure that they treat foreign IP rights the same as domestic IP rights. China also has agreed to streamline China’s regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which should lead to increases in U.S. exports and U.S. jobs in these two important sectors. Indeed, according to industry data, the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry directly employs more than 810,000 workers and indirectly supports a total of 3.4 million additional jobs in the United States, while annual exports of U.S. pharmaceutical products to China have exceeded $1.2 billion. The U.S. medical device industry, meanwhile, includes over 7,000 companies, most with less than 100 employees, supports 1.9 million U.S. jobs overall, and was responsible for $2.7 billion in exports to China in 2013.
  • Competition policy enforcement: The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement. The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings. China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.