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December 16, 2013

High-Level Visit to China Will Strengthen U.S. Asia-Pacific Ties

13 December 2013

Michael Froman and Penny Pritzker flank President Obama in the White House Rose Garden as he announces their nominations to be U.S. trade representative and secretary of commerce in May 2013.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will travel to Beijing to co-chair the 24th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) December 19–20 with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang.

The two top U.S. trade officials will be joined by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“The Obama administration is committed to strengthening our partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region and deepening our commercial and economic ties,” Pritzker said, according to December 13 news releases from both the Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“The JCCT is a critical component of U.S. engagement in Asia and an important mechanism in our efforts to further build on the U.S.-China bilateral relationship,” she added.

Pritzker said the high-level JCCT meeting is “the capstone of a year of work,” and the U.S. officials are eager to engage with their counterparts on issues of importance to the two countries.

“The JCCT continues to provide an important platform to address wide-ranging issues in our bilateral trade relationship with China,” U.S. Trade Representative Froman said. “This year we’re focused on making progress on areas including enforcement of intellectual property rights, market access for our goods and services, and removal of regulatory barriers.”

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. It holds high-level plenary meetings annually to review progress made by working groups that focus on a wide variety of trade issues.

The working groups meet throughout the year on such topics as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, commercial law, services trade, regulatory barriers to exports, tourism and statistics.

At the 2012 JCCT meeting, held in Washington, the two sides addressed intellectual property and innovation issues, regulatory obstacles that impeded U.S. exports and issues surrounding China’s Government Procurement Agreement accession.

China was the largest supplier of U.S. goods imports in 2012, and the third-largest market for U.S. exports in 2012 (after Canada and Mexico). U.S. goods exports to China were $110 billion in 2012, up 583 percent since 2000. Trade in services with China (exports and imports) totaled $43 billion in 2012; services exports were $30 billion and services imports were $13 billion.

“China is one of our most important trading partners,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, “and I look forward to joining Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman in this year’s JCCT discussions to further strengthen this important relationship.”

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