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Broad consensus reached at bilateral trade dialogue

Chen Weihua
Updated: Nov 25,2016 8:38 AM     China Daily

High-level trade talks between the United States and China ended on Nov 23 in Washington, with both sides saying much had been achieved in brokering a range of consensus and hammering out positive results.

Their remarks follow concerns raised about how President-elect Donald Trump will change trade policy toward China when he assumes office in January.

Senior representatives from the two countries said on Nov 23 the 27th China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade had reached invaluable consensus on multiple issues and showed what could be done to smooth the process of trade between the world’s two biggest economies.

The commission weighed into such complex areas as export controls, trade remedies, inspections and quarantines of agricultural products, civil aviation services, Chinese investment in the US, agricultural biotechnology, innovation policies, excess capacity, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and integrated circuits.

At the closing ceremony, Vice-Premier Wang Yang praised the commission’s role over the years in managing differences and ensuring a stable development of bilateral economic and trade relations.

Other officials said the commission’s work transcended political change and underscored a continuity of the relationship between Beijing and Washington.

“No matter how the leadership changes in the US, the shared interests of our two countries far outweigh our differences,” Zhang Xiangchen, China’s deputy international trade representative, told a news conference after the conclusion of the talks.

Zhang said the two countries enjoyed a high level of economic cooperation, which had brought practical benefits to their business sectors and citizens.

In 2015, bilateral goods trade reached $558.4 billion and two-way equity investments exceeded $160 billion.

Zhang noted it was normal for the two countries to have differences as their interests become ever more intertwined.

“What’s important is that we need to take a cooperative approach to address our differences,” he said.

He said that for problems that could not be solved at the moment, both sides should adopt a constructive approach to managing them in order to avoid misunderstandings, miscalculations and dispute escalation.

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and US Trade Representative Michael Froman also praised the role that the commission had played. Pritzker said constructive engagement and sustained diplomacy were critical to making progress on the issues that remained.

“Although this is our last time serving as co-chairs, I want to emphasize that this dialogue has been and will remain the essential forum for promoting more commerce, for deepening trust and for addressing real business challenges,” she said.

Wang chaired the Chinese delegation while Pritzker and Froman led the US team.