Trade talks wrap up in Washington
Final JCCT of Obama administration tackles host of subjects, looks ahead with optimism
China and the United states reached multiple consensuses and reaped positive results in their last high-level economic dialogue of the Obama administration.
The 27th China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) concluded in Washington on Wednesday having delved into such subjects as export control, trade remedy, inspection and quarantine of agricultural products, civil aviation services, Chinese investment in the US, agricultural biotechnology, innovation policy, excess capacity, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and integrated circuit.
At the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning, Vice-Premier Wang Yang praised the JCCT’s role over the years in managing differences and ensuring a stable development of bilateral economic and trade relations.
“No matter how the leadership changes in the US, the shared interests of our countries far outweigh our differences,” Zhang Xiangcheng, China’s deputy international trade representative, told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon after the conclusion of the JCCT at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium.
He said the two countries enjoyed a high degree of complementarity in their economic cooperation, which has brought practical benefits to their business communities and their two peoples. “These facts are not changed,” he said.
China-US trade has grown exponentially in the last 37 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties. In 2015, two-way goods trade reached $558.4 billion and two-way investment stock exceeded $160 billion.
China is the largest trade partner for the US, the third largest export market and the top source of imports. The US is China’s second-largest trade partner, the top export market and the No 4 major source of imports.
Zhang noted it’s normal for the two countries to have differences as their interests become ever more intertwined. “What’s important is that we need to take a cooperative approach to address our differences,” he said.
He suggested that for problems that cannot be solved at the moment, both sides should adopt
The shared interests of our countries far outweigh our differences.” Vice-Premier Wang Yang
a constructive approach to managing them in order to avoid misunderstanding, miscalculation and escalation.
US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and US Trade Representative Michael Froman also praised the role the JCCT mechanism has played.
Pritzker said as the two largest economies and the two largest markets in the world, constructive engagement and sustained diplomacy between the US and China are critical to making progress on the issues that remain in the relationship.
“Although this is our last time serving as co-chairs, I want to emphasize that this dialogue has been and will remain the essential forum for promoting more commerce, for deepening trust and for addressing real business challenges,” she said in her closing remarks.
Wang chaired the Chinese delegation to the JCCT while Pritzker and Froman led the US team. On Wednesday afternoon, the three witnessed the signing of two memoranda of understanding — one in support of the establishment of an Africa centers for disease control and prevention, the other on the select reverse trade mission.
The US has promised to welcome Chinese investment in the US and provide the Chinese investment equal and fair treatment with investment from other places, according to Zhang.
He described the negotiations of a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) as making positive progress, saying a high-standard BIT is good for China’s reform and opening-up and the interests of both nations.
“We are willing to push for a conclusion of the BIT as soon as possible,” he said.
On China’s keen concern about recognition of its market economy status, Pritzker said that the time was “not ripe” for the US to change the way it evaluates whether China has achieved market economy status and there are no international trade rules requiring changes in how US anti-dumping duties are calculated.
She said the determination will be made strictly according to six criteria set in US law, adding that the US and Chinese sides have engaged in conversations on the subject.
China believes that based on the protocol of its WTO accession in 2001, it should automatically transit to market economy status upon the 15th anniversary of its accession, which is next month. Being recognized as a market economy would prevent countries such as the US from imposing unfair and random antidumping duties on Chinese exports.
Launched in 1983, the JCCT is one of the earliest high-level trade dialogue mechanisms between the two governments.
In the past three days, the two sides also held a business leaders’ roundtable, a talk on digital trade, a forum on food safety and a business luncheon, with the attendance of representatives from government, business and academia of both nations.
Premier WangYang (standing left), US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker (center) and US Trade Representative Michael Froman witness the signing of a ChinaUS memorandum of understanding on select reserve trade missions on Wednesday afternoon in Washington.