U.S. Business To China: We'll Be Watching

By John S. McClenahen Although the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful business lobbies, are basically pleased with China's pledges for change at this week's meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), they're cautious about results. " . . . We'll need careful monitoring to ensure the Chinese deliver on what they've promised," says Bill Primosch, NAM's director of international business policy. "We are very pleased with the public statements of Vice Premier Wu Yi that intellectual property rights protection will be a priority and that other U.S. commercial concerns, including technology standards, will be addressed, but American business will ultimately be judging the results," emphasizes Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber's vice president for Asia. At the April 21 meeting of the JCCT in Washington, D.C., China promised by yearend 2004 to expand the range of intellectual property rights violations subject to criminal penalties and to conduct nationwide enforcement against piracy and counterfeiting. China said also that it would indefinitely suspend its proposed implementation of WAPI as a mandatory wireless encryption standard and that it would allow telecommunications service providers in China to make their own choices on which third-generation telecommunications standard to adopt for mobile phones. And in a potentially significant development for efficient supply-chain management, China agreed to accelerate the steps necessary to allow U.S. companies to import, export, distribute and sell their products in China without going through local state trading companies. U.S. manufacturers and other American businesses won't be the only ones monitoring progress on the Chinese promises. Eight days before the JCCT meeting, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative upgraded and expanded its staff dealing with Chinese trade issues. Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Charles Freeman will lead the new Office of China Affairs.

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