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Congressional Working Group on Mainland China Weighs in on On-going Negotiations

On 17 January, the co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional China Working Group, Reps. Darin Lahood, (Republican-Illinois) and Rick Larsen (Democrat-Washington), wrote to President Trump regarding the on-going trade negotiations with mainland China. In their letter, they encouraged the Trump administration to focus on substantive issues, including increased market access for U.S. businesses and improved intellectual property protection.

Regarding market access, they asked that the U.S. team focus on financial services, information technology, domestic subsidies, and testing and certification requirements. In the case of intellectual property, they demanded the elimination of not only technology transfer requirements but also local content rules and digital trade barriers, while complaining of the lack of effective enforcement and penalties for intellectual property violations. They also asked for the elimination of investment barriers and innovation policies that “unfairly boost domestic players.”

The two lawmakers also encouraged the modernisation of mainland Chinese standards and regulatory practices “to ensure transparency and science-based approaches and prevent unfair use of competition or other areas of policy to protect  domestic players”, and expressed the hope that an enforceable agreement could result from these negotiations. Moreover, the co-chairs requested that this agreement remove the current additional tariffs on mainland Chinese exports to the United States while expressing concern about the possibility of even higher tariffs after 2 March. They noted that the U.S. tariffs and the retaliatory tariffs imposed by mainland China are both having negative effects on U.S. consumers, farmers, manufacturers and workers, and provided an example of perishable U.S. fresh cherry exports that were delayed by mainland Chinese Customs until they could no longer be sold.

Founded in 2005, the U.S.-China Congressional Working Group has conducted nine congressional missions to mainland China focused on trade relations, consumer product safety and intellectual property rights, along with defence and other non-economic issues.

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