U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Closing Press Conference Remarks at the 26th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Last week U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman led a U.S. delegation to Guangzhou, China for the 26th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China.

At the conclusion of this year’s discussions, Secretary Pritzker, Ambassador Froman, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced key outcomes at a press conference closing the session. Secretary Pritzker’s remarks are included below, and a fact sheet on all outcomes from the 26th JCCT can be found here:

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon. Today marks the 26th meeting of the JCCT, and the second meeting of what we call the “re-imagined” JCCT.  We have had a productive two days, and we have reason to be proud of what our teams have achieved.

Before I discuss some of our specific progress, let me just say this: it is a pleasure to be here in Guangzhou for the second time this year. Vice Premier Wang Yang and his team have welcomed our delegation with open arms. I would also like to thank Ambassador Mike Froman, Ambassador Baucus, and Secretary Vilsack for their work – and the work of their teams – to make this dialogue a success.

Last year, Vice Premier Wang, Ambassador Froman and I decided to “re-imagine” the JCCT in recognition of the dramatically-increased size and scope of the U.S.-China economic relationship. Thanks to more than 15 years of reforms and dramatic growth, China has become an exporting powerhouse.

Since 2000, our total bilateral trade has grown exponentially, from $116 billion to $590 billion last year– a fivefold increase. To put that in perspective, our trade with China today is larger than our trade with every country in South America and in Africa combined. 

Despite the economic transformation in China and the related changes in our bilateral relationship, the JCCT had not fundamentally changed in over a decade.  The re-imagined JCCT is our effort to construct a dialogue that better reflects the scale, dynamism, challenges, and opportunities of the modern economic relationship between our two countries.

This year, as in years’ past, our government-to-government meetings were substantive and focused on important issues related to intellectual property protection, competition policy, pharmaceutical and medical device market access, cyber and technology policies, the role of non-governmental organizations, and specific industry challenges. We have made important progress and will continue to work with our Chinese partners in a constructive and collaborative manner.

But the JCCT is no longer solely about these critical negotiations.  

In an effort to focus more energy on market opportunities, we have invited private sector representatives from both countries to become our partners in the JCCT. Last year, their input guided us toward cooperative events focused on issues like cross-border investment, travel and tourism, and agriculture.  As I said this morning, I thought that this year’s events on corporate governance, subnational cooperation, healthcare, and agriculture were strong and welcome examples of the vast opportunities presented by deeper commercial cooperation between the United States and China.

In preparation for today’s discussions, our deputies and their teams have been engaged throughout the year across 16 different working groups, dedicating themselves to achieving strong outcomes that will improve the U.S.-China economic relationship.

Before today’s talks commenced, we had already made progress on standards and patents, broadcasting, fisheries and food safety. Today, we have achieved successful outcomes in the following areas:

  • On trade secrets: China clarified its intent to make preliminary injunctions, meaningful remedies and other judicial protections more easily accessible to firms confronting trade secrets theft. This will help to deter these harmful actions.
  • On pharmaceuticals and medical device market access:  China will take specific steps to further implement its 2014 JCCT commitment in this area, including issuing clinical trial exemptions for certain medical devices and publishing annual reports on progress made toward reducing the backlog of drug and medical device registrations. 

Today, we are pleased to have reached agreement on issues important to China and highlighted by Vice Premier Wang Yang. These include, for example, export controls. We have agreed to develop a mechanism to improve the exchange of information on individual cases of commercial, high-tech items exported to China.

Under the Vice Premier's leadership, we have also opened a new door in our trade relationship by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on promoting commercial partnerships at the subnational level.  This MOU recognizes the increasingly important role that provinces and cities play in driving and creating the conditions for sustained economic growth.

We also reached agreement on a number of topics for strategic collaboration between the U.S. and China over the course of the next year.  Focused government-to-government cooperation on topics including food safety, fish and wildlife conservation, and steel holds the potential to unleash more bilateral commercial activity.

Let me say one additional point about steel, in particular. The steel sector is often regarded as a source of contention between our governments, and it is true that we have serious challenges in this industry on issues like excess production and its impact in other markets. But today, we have reached an agreement to launch a steel dialogue that I hope helps us meet these steel-related challenges head-on. We simply must deal with problems like excess capacity at their source and find constructive paths forward, with the market playing a decisive role. I am looking forward to our Steel Dialogue taking up this charge with vigor.

In addition, we have committed to continue our engagement on those topics where we were not able to reach acceptable conclusions. One such topic is the issue of the draft NGO law. Ambassador Baucus and I shared with our Chinese counterparts the importance of this issue to the US government, to our businesses and to the many other NGOs that do valuable work in China and around the world. However, we still have considerable work to do to reach a meaningful understanding on this topic.

As the two largest economies and the two largest markets in the world, constructive engagement and sustained diplomacy between the U.S. and China is critical. The JCCT remains an essential forum to create the conditions that enable more trade and investment between our countries. Our challenges are many – but so are our opportunities. I look forward to continued work with our Chinese counterparts and respective private sector representatives to craft solutions that benefit our countries, our companies and, most importantly, our peoples.  Thank you.

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Last updated: 2015-12-08 14:53

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