Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said the United States is pushing China to provide fairer treatment for foreign companies that operate in the Asian country as representatives of the world’s two largest economies concluded trade talks in Beijing.
“The challenge that specific companies are having with their situations here in China are ones that we very directly talked through with our counterparts,” Pritzker said in an interview in China’s capital Friday. “Pointing out where we see such actions to be unfair.”
Pritzker, Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack led the American delegation to Beijing for the latest round of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade talks. While the U.S. and Chinese economies are increasingly intertwined, their relations have grown tense over issues related to commerce in autos, clean-energy manufacturing, farm products, rare-earths elements and intellectual property protection.
Foreign companies from baby-food maker Danone to Apple Inc. have been targeted by state media or regulators in China on pricing and local practices this year. Qualcomm Inc., the world’s largest maker of chips for smartphones, said last month that Beijing’s National Development and Reform Commission began a probe related to an antimonopoly law, the latest international brand to draw Chinese scrutiny.
Burberry Group PLC, the U.K.’s largest luxury-goods maker, said last month it is appealing a decision by Chinese regulators to restrict the company’s trademark on its hallmark checkered pattern for leather goods. Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee chain, drew criticism from China Central Television in October for setting higher prices in China than in other markets.
More work needs to be done
“We have made progress during these meetings, though we still have more work to do on critical issues to further our economic relationship,” Pritzker said.
The two sides signed agreements to help boost tourism from China to the U.S. and to collaborate on the development of clean-energy technologies, according to a statement from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
Commercial deals that were announced at the talks include a memorandum of understanding between Honeywell International Inc. and Shanghai New Changning Group Co. to use the U.S. company’s electric-grid technologies to manage energy demand in a pilot project.
Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest U.S. government contractor, and Reignwood Group Co. of Beijing signed a deal to help develop a power plant that uses thermal-energy technology from the ocean, according to the U.S. statement.
President Obama said he will nominate Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, as the next ambassador to China. Baucus, who would replace Ambassador Gary Locke, is the Senate’s top official on trade policy.
“The U.S.-China relationship is one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships,” Baucus said. “If confirmed, my goal will be to further strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between our two nations.”