US, China discuss trade measures to beef-up $500 bn trade

US exports to China touched USD 103.9 billion last year, but at the same the trade deficit crossed all time high of over USD 295 billion.

Updated: Dec 21, 2012, 14:18 PM IST

Beijing: The world's top two economies, the US and China have agreed on a number of measures, including export controls and investment, during the latest round of talks to iron out differences on issues concerning their USD 500 billion bilateral trade.

The US pledged to address concerns over fair treatment for Chinese investment, while China vowed to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights at the China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in the US capital yesterday, state-run China Daily reported on Friday.

According to the daily, the US also agreed to further relax technology export controls, which China is lobbying hard for years. For its part China vowed to pursue a more open government procurement process and not require foreign firms to transfer technology as a precondition for market access.

Wang Qishan, the vice-premier who headed the Chinese delegation, said the economies of China and the US have become "interdependent and inseparable".

Wang, the newly-appointed chief of China's anti-corruption wing as well as member of the powerful seven member Standing Committee described the two economies as "highly complementary and neither can thrive without the other".

Despite a strategic rivalry, China and the US are major trade partners with annual trade to the tune of USD 503.2 billion in 2011.

US exports to China touched USD 103.9 billion last year, but at the same the trade deficit crossed all time high of over USD 295 billion. China exported 399.3 billion.

US attributes the spiraling trade deficit to a host of issues including cheap labour costs and China setting a lower exchange rate against US Dollar.

Most US companies including Apple prefer to make their products in China due to cheaper production costs.

Wang said global economic recovery will be sluggish over the next five years and this means that US-China trade relations will have greater significance.

He said China has made tangible progress in addressing US concerns over IPR protection, technology transfer, government procurement and market access and Washington has started to address Chinese concerns on FDI, export controls and visa.

After the talks acting US Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said relations have never been more important, especially after November's leadership transition.

Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming described the talks in which more than 20 topics were discussed as "achieving positive results".

He pledged China will step up IPR law enforcement, including the software used by State-owned enterprises, banks and government entities and said both countries have pledged to fight protectionism.

He expressed concern at the US Department of Commerce announcing that it would levy high tariffs on wind towers imported from China. The US hopes to increase beef exports to China while China wants to boost poultry exports.