China agrees to increase copyright enforcement |

China agrees to increase copyright enforcement

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration said Tuesday that China has agreed to crack down on copyright piracy of American computer programs and lift a ban on U.S. beef as part of an effort to reduce a record $202 billion trade gap.The announcement was one of several commitments China made during a high-level meeting designed to reduce trade tensions in advance of next week’s U.S. visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman led the U.S. delegation at the annual meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. The Chinese side was led by Vice Premier Wu Yi.The administration said that in the area of piracy, the Chinese agreed to require that computers use legal software and to step up enforcement of intellectual property rights. They also pledged to close Chinese optical disk plants that are producing pirated CDs and DVDs.In addition, the Chinese continued a multibillion-dollar buying spree of American products with a scheduled signing of a commercial airliner deal with Boeing Corp. valued at $4.6 billion.”Our message to China has been consistent and clear,” Portman said at a joint news conference with the Chinese. “American exporters, workers, farmers and service providers deserve the same access that China has to our markets.”Gutierrez said China had agreed to reopen its market to U.S. beef after clearing up some remaining some technical issues.”We both committed to work closely together to do this quickly,” he said.The administration has been pushing the Chinese for greater commitments to deal with trade barriers, which U.S. firms contend are costing them billions of dollars in lost sales, and to stop holding down the value of their currency in relation to the dollar.The administration is under growing political pressure to show progress in dealing with a soaring trade deficit with China that critics say has contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000.The administration said China also agreed to begin negotiations to join an agreement administered by the World Trade Organization that governs that standards foreign companies must meet when bidding for government contracts.Gutierrez said China would submit its proposal on how it would follow the WTO procedures no later than the end of 2007.This was critical for companies that hoped to break into China’s multibillion market for government contracts.The National Association of Manufacturers said the package of commitments represented “incremental contributions” to solving the trade gap between the two nations.”As helpful as these individual steps are, they need to be followed by systemic changes that will put our trade relationship on a more fair basis,” said Frank Vargo, the organization’s vice president.Vargo said his group was hopeful that the Bush-Hu meeting next week would produce a breakthrough in a longstanding dispute over China’s currency system.On Monday, Bush said he would raise the currency issue with Hu at the meeting a week from Thursday.”He’s coming into a country where there’s over a $200 billion trade deficit, and a lot of Americans are wondering where’s the equity in trade,” Bush said. “I think he could help the Americans understand the importance of a free-trading world if he were to maybe make a statement on his currency, for example.”The administration has been lobbying China for more than two years to allow its currency to rise in value against the U.S. dollar. American manufacturers contend China unfairly depresses the value of its currency to make Chinese goods cheaper in America and U.S. products more expensive in China.The Chinese trade delegation led by Wu began a 13-state buy-America tour last Thursday in Los Angeles with reports that the Chinese may spend as much as $15 billion on U.S. products.Vail, Colorado

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