Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
Last week I was in Guangzhou, China, participating in the 26th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). I was joined at the event by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Holleyman. The JCCT brings together leaders from the world’s two largest economies to seek agreement on a path forward to expand and improve a two-way commercial relationship that has grown to nearly $600 billion since its inception more than 30 years ago.
It was an intense trip, with negotiating sessions stretching well past midnight, only to ramp up again early the next day. I left South China a little sleep-deprived, but with a strong sense of accomplishment for all the positive outcomes achieved during this critical annual event. Through meetings with our Chinese counterparts, we reached agreement in several areas of importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers. We agreed on key outcomes in the areas of intellectual property rights and enforcement, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, competition policy, and technology policy.
In the area of IPR protection and enforcement, new commitments from China will facilitate much needed improvements in a wide range of industries that rely on the ability to protect and enforce their IPR in China. Building on several prior commitments, China also clarified efforts to revise China’s trade secrets system and provide more effective remedies to deter theft of trade secrets.
We made progress on several areas related to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. We announced concrete outcomes on implementing mutually agreed goals of eliminating drug and medical device application backlogs and improving the time it takes to make these products available to Chinese patients. China also agreed that imported medical devices will be treated the same as domestically produced medical devices. These outcomes on pharmaceuticals and medical devices pave the way for significant increases in U.S. exports in healthcare, a key sector for future growth in China as its population ages and its economy matures.
We also announced advancements in the competition policy arena. The United States and China made meaningful progress in China’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law (AML). China agreed that it would protect commercial secrets obtained in the process of AML enforcement from unauthorized disclosure and ensure that other agencies do not try to improperly influence that enforcement, for example, in favor of domestic competitors.
Significant strides were made on technology policy as well. China committed to nondiscriminatory and transparent policies for ICT information security, including assurances that Chinese banks are free to purchase ICT products regardless of the country of origin.
I was pleased to participate in several programs this weekend that continued our efforts to “re-imagine” the JCCT that Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman launched in Chicago last year. The reinvigorated forum included a full day of collaborative programing designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the United States and China, as well as to promote the exchange of information on trade opportunities at the state, provincial, and local level.
I had the privilege to co-chair a roundtable discussion on corporate governance and business-government engagement featuring U.S. and Chinese government officials and business leaders from U.S. and Chinese companies at the historic Chen Family Academy. With these 25 business leaders from both countries, we were able to explore conditions and best practices for successful business operations in both our countries. The other collaborative events included a networking event and luncheon recognizing the importance of bilateral cooperation at the local level; a program highlighting mutually beneficial health and healthcare public-private partnerships; and a U.S. and Chinese stakeholder discussion regarding recent progress made toward safer and more reliable food chains.
As Secretary Pritzker noted at the conclusion of this year’s JCCT, “a close and productive U.S.-China commercial relationship, based on responsible partnership, is essential to the growth and stability of the global economy.”
I’m happy to report that we had a successful JCCT, and particularly pleased to note that the International Trade Administration was able to achieve this success through close partnership with other Commerce Department bureaus such as the Bureau of Industry and Security, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I look forward to working with my U.S. and Chinese counterparts as we strive to continue our efforts to enhance and expand the U.S.-China commercial relationship.
Building, deepening, and managing commercial relationships does not only define ITA’s work with our Chinese counterparts. This defines the singular importance of our agency as a whole. Between our consistent engagement with the private sector, our collection of trade specialists and industry experts, and the second-to-none global reach of our Commercial Service, ITA leads the efforts to work with and on behalf of U.S. business to promote trade and investment that makes U.S. companies more competitive abroad and encourages investment into the United States. You can expect that we will continue this important work well into the future.