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Weekly Trade Focus: Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

10/26/2009 - 11:06am

Every week, the USTR website explores a new trade topic, with background information and current trade data. This week Ambassador Kirk travels to Hangzhou, China along with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to meet with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan as part of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

The United States and China have a large and dynamic trading relationship. Bilateral trade in goods totaled $408 billion in 2008, and China is now the United States' second largest trading partner. U.S. goods exports to China were $70 billion in 2008, up 330% since 2000 and U.S. goods imports from China were $338 billion in 2008, up 238% since 2000. Trade in services with China (exports and imports) totaled $23.0 billion in 2007 (latest data available); services exports were $14.2 billion and services imports were $8.8 billion. For the period January-to-August of 2009, U.S. goods exports to China are down 14.3% and goods imports from China are down 14.9%, as a result of the impact of the global economic downturn. Due to the large and robust relationship trading relationship the United States has with China, these talks represent an important opportunity to engage this vital trading partner at a senior level.

The U.S.-China JCCT was established in 1983 and is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade matters and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. This 20th meeting of the JCCT comes at a critical juncture in America's relationship with China and represents an important opportunity for the United States to engage in dialogue at a senior level. In addition to the high-level annual plenary meeting, a large number of working groups under the JCCT meet throughout the year to bring U.S. and Chinese officials together to engage in detailed discussions of specific trade issues. The working groups will focus their attention to topics ranging from Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the Insurance Dialogue, and the Information Industry Working Group.

The three U.S. cabinet members look forward to discussions with Vice Premier Wang Qishan and other Chinese officials on a wide range of important bilateral trade issues, including intellectual property rights enforcement, agriculture, standards, government procurement and other issues. The United States will seek to make concrete progress on as many issues as possible. The participants will also discuss a number of cooperative initiatives of interest to both sides. The JCCT also gives the United States and China a venue to consider the breadth of our trade relationship and identify steps that each side can take to ensure that it is fair, sustainable, and mutually beneficial going forward.