The U.S. and China have resolved a variety of specific commercial issues and announced a policy dialogue that could begin to address the competitive concerns of the U.S. industry, says the US-China Business Council (USCBC).
"It is important to show progress in the trade relationship in the lead up to President Obama's trip to China this month," says USBC President John Frisbie.
The U.S. and China met on October 29 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, for the annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), a primary forum for addressing trade irritants in the US-China trading relationship.
At this year's meeting, China committed to issuing rules to clarify that foreign companies operating in China are eligible to participate in China's government procurement programs, building on a commitment made at July's US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) meeting.
"Depending on how it is implemented, this commitment could have very positive results for a wide number of American companies seeking sales in the China market. This has been a top priority issue for the US-China Business Council this year and we are pleased to see the two governments working on a solution," says Frisbie.
In addition, agreements were reached to further trade in clean energy, reopen the China market for US pork exports, and establish a dialogue on China's industrial policies.
Frisbie expresses support for expanding the JCCT beyond the specific issue negotiations to include policy issues.
"I am very interested in the plan to expand future JCCT discussions to tackle broader industrial policies and level the playing field for US companies and workers," he comments. "The JCCT needs to evolve with the growing relationship, and this is a step in the right direction."
USCBC had called on the Obama administration to use the JCCT to continue negotiations on specific issues but add a new component to tackle the policy issues not covered under the S&ED.
"The S&ED has a high-level economic focus and does not have the bandwidth to address all of the commercial policy issues affecting American companies that do business with or compete with Chinese companies," continues Frisbie. "The JCCT can fill this void, in close coordination with the S&ED--that could be a very effective combination."
Though the JCCT was successful on several important issues, many others remain unresolved. Frisbie urges China to view the JCCT as an opportunity to make more significant advances in the trade relationship.
"China rightly expresses concern about protectionism in the trade relationship, yet sees the JCCT as a forum to resolve a limited number of specific issues. I'd like to see China take a more open approach to the JCCT as a vehicle that can change the dynamic of US-China commercial relations," notes Frisbie.