U.S. to hold pivotal trade talks with China and then EU

Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:08am EST
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By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will hold high-level trade talks with China and the European Union this week, testing the Obama administration's ability to tear down barriers that impede U.S. exports and economic growth.

The United States and China will cap a rocky year of trade relations with two days of meetings beginning on Tuesday. The United States on Thursday will then shift from transpacific to transatlantic relations for talks with the EU.

The separate dialogues present distinctly different challenges, with fast-growing China receiving the bigger share of U.S. attention this year.

Heading into the annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meeting, the Obama administration is under pressure from Congress to show progress on trade irritants ranging from beef to computer software.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan will head a delegation of nearly 100 officials for talks led on the U.S. side by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

A bipartisan group of U.S. members of the House of Representatives on Friday complained that promises made by China at past JCCT meetings "have failed to lead to commercially meaningful market access for U.S. companies."

They urged Locke and Kirk to press China to commit to specific targets for measuring how much it is cutting piracy of U.S. software and other intellectual property and boosting imports of American goods.

The United States is also expected to press China to loosen export restraints on rare earth minerals used in a variety of clean energy and high-tech industry technologies.   Continued...