- Dialogue slated for first quarter of 2024 to bring government and private sector together in working group focused on trade and investment disputes
- Hope is to relieve American companies’ concerns over intellectual property theft and other issues, says commerce official leading US delegation
High-ranking commerce officials from China and the United States are expected to hold talks in Washington in the coming months, with a focus on tackling concerns from both countries’ business communities, a US trade official said on Friday.
The in-person meeting would be the first of the US-China commercial issues working group – a consultation mechanism of government officials and private sector representatives seeking solutions to trade and investment disputes. The group launched last August upon US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo’s visits to China.
Held at the vice-ministerial level, the dialogue would entail the business community playing a significant part, according to Marisa Lago, US undersecretary of commerce for international trade, lead delegate of the American side.
Lago outlined her role and observations during an online event on Friday hosted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
“The focus is very much on addressing concrete issues that affect our business communities,” she explained.
“It’s not a negotiation forum, but a channel where the issues that we have each heard from our business communities can be discussed, and we’re looking for really specific actionable outcomes where the government can help address.”
America’s goal at the meeting would be to achieve greater predictability in the bilateral commercial relationship, Lago said.
The hope is to relieve US companies’ concerns over “intellectual property theft, unsustainable subsidies and unfair so-called security raids” while operating in China.
“It is so important to keep the line of communication with China open because that reduces the risk of misunderstanding and it also allows us to explore areas of cooperation,” she added.
The talks are slated for the first quarter of 2024, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce in November, following a meeting between Raimondo and her Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, on the sidelines of a summit in San Francisco between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Xi-Biden meeting was the leaders’ first face-to-face encounter in a year, and it delivered modest deals on military communication, drug controls and artificial intelligence, hitting a pause on what had been deteriorating bilateral ties.
Apart from navigating trade disputes that have been in place since the Donald Trump administration, the world’s two largest economies in recent years have ramped up their competition in advanced technologies.
The Biden administration has imposed sweeping export bans on the sale of advanced semiconductors to entities within China, while restricting US venture capital and private equity investments in semiconductor, quantum computing and AI systems firms in the country.
The US has described its approach as that of a “small yard, high fence”, saying it seeks to protect American national security rather than restrict China’s development.
Beijing has repeatedly protested against Washington’s curbs.
In retaliation, it has ordered export restrictions on critical raw materials, including gallium and germanium that are used to make semiconductors and electronics, as well as graphite products widely used for making batteries for electric vehicles.