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Trade Talks with China Focus on Farm Goods, IPR Protection, Competition Policy

Monday, December 22, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A “reimagined” U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting in Chicago this past week yielded “significant progress” in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies and competition law enforcement, the Department of Commerce reports.

Agriculture market access. China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn and pursue a regular dialogue with the U.S. on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture. China also agreed to strong intellectual property protections for products that use trademarks or common names like “parmesan” or “feta” cheese.

In addition, the two sides agreed to hold a vice ministerial-level Strategic Agricultural Innovation Dialogue beginning in early 2015. These discussions will address issues such as food security, climate change and environmental protection.

IPR protection. Building on prior bilateral commitments, China agreed to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets, work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance protections, bring new focus to work to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China, and ensure that foreign IPR are treated the same as domestic IPR.

Innovation policies. China agreed to streamline its regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Competition policy enforcement. In response to concerns by U.S. and other foreign companies about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s enforcement of its anti-monopoly law, China agreed that under normal circumstances a foreign company in an AML investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings. China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

Excess capacity. The two sides held a strategic economic discussion of excess capacity in products such as steel and solar panels, including its causes, costs and strategies for dealing with it.

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