The United States said Monday it would press China on intellectual property rights and other key concerns as the world's two largest economies hold top-level trade talks next week.

The Commerce Department said that Vice Premier Wang Qishan would visit Washington on Dec. 18-19 for the annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the main U.S.-China forum to discuss trade policies.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk called the forum "critical" for the future of the often-fractious commercial relationship between the United States and China.

"This year, we're focused on delivering meaningful results on issues including enforcement of intellectual property rights, combating pressures to transfer technology, eliminating trade-distortive industrial policies and removing key obstacles to our exports," he said in a statement.

Trade has been a frequent irritant in relations, with the United States accusing China of hurting U.S. companies by not cracking down on widespread counterfeiting and favoring domestic competitors.

China, in turn, has warned the United States against protectionism and called for the removal of restrictions on the sale of sensitive technologies.

The talks come in the wake of the U.S. election, in which defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney vowed to take a tougher stance on China over trade and other issues if he defeated President Barack Obama.

This year's talks will likely be the last involving longstanding players in trade negotiations, adding a level of uncertainty into future rounds.

Wang, an economic expert who is widely known and largely respected in Washington, was named last month as China's top official tasked with fighting corruption -- seen by the Communist Party as a major threat to its rule.

Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas, is widely expected to leave his position as the top U.S. trade negotiator when Obama names his new cabinet.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012