China Opens Up Market To U.S. Goods, Pledges To Fight Copyright Piracy

By Agence France-Presse China offered greater market access to U.S. goods and pledged to step up enforcement against copyright piracy after key ministerial talks April21, which ended with eight trade-boosting agreements. "The meeting proved to be a complete success," Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi told a news conference before the signing of letters of intent and memoranda of understanding among officials of the two countries. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said Wu presented an action plan at the talks to "significantly" reduce infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR), a primary concern of multinational corporations in China. He said China gave a commitment to "complete and promulgate" this year new laws to crack down on piracy. Wu said that an essential element of that effort was "lowering the threshold for criminal penalty" for offenders based on a "newly formulated judicial interpretation which explicitly stipulates measures for criminal punishment for all kinds of IPR infringements. "The IPR topic was one of the most important topics covered in the meeting," Wu said, adding, "we never shy away from facing this problem and we value very much the U.S. concerns about the issue." Zoellick said China also agreed to accelerate steps to allow U.S. companies to import, export, distribute and sell their products in the world's most populous nation without going through local state trading companies. Specifically, he said, China agreed to bring forward by six months to July 1 its implementation of a recently passed law allowing such direct trading rights. The agreements signed Wednesday allow U.S. shipping companies to open full branches in China and to operate without restrictions and also pave the way for increased U.S. exports to China of high-technology items. China is now the sixth-largest market for U.S. exports and America's third-largest trading partner overall, surpassing Japan last year. Some members of President George W. Bush's administration, business and trade union leaders have blamed China for stealing U.S. jobs and exercising unfair trading policies such as currency manipulation to attract jobs and boost export competitiveness. Last month, the U.S. filed the first ever complaint against China with the World Trade Organization (WTO) alleging its favorable tax policies toward domestic chip manufacturers discriminated against imported U.S. chips. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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