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China to buy US beef, shopping bag tops US$16b
Latest Updated by 2006-04-12 10:12:24
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To help reduce a massive trade gap, Beijing has agreed to lift a ban on US beef exports during latest bilateral trade talks in Washington, said a joint statement issued by US and Chinese officials.

"China has agreed to reopen its market to US beef subject to completion of the technical protocol," the statement said. The two sides promised to "work closely together" on final details to lift the ban which has been in place since 2003 when the mad cow disease row erupted in North America.

During the annual trade talks, the Chinese government also agreed to a range of measures to ease some serious US concerns on the trade front, AFP reported.

Vice Premier Wu Yi, who is heading a 200-strong shopping delegation visiting as many as 13 US states, told the US team that Chinese government would, aside from lifting the ban on US beef, consider launching talks to join a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on government procurement.

Such an agreement would require all Chinese-made computers to install legal software, enforce the closure of factories making fake and pirated CDs and DVDs, eliminate barriers to trade in medical devices and launch a dialogue on the steel trade.

The meeting "achieved forward movement in a number of significant areas," US Trade Representative Rob Portman told reporters.

"We welcome the progress made today and will continue to press for additional steps to promote greater equity, durability and balance in the US-China trade relationship," Portman said. US Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said he was "very pleased" with China's decision to resume imports of US beef.

"While we still need to finalize the terms of this market opening, including specific protocol and timing for trade resumption, we have agreed to do this very quickly," Johanns said.

China represents a vital market for US beef exports, accounting for 100 million dollars of beef exports before the 2003 ban, he said. "This is an important step in our efforts to restore beef trade based on internationally recognized guidelines," Johanns said.

Apart from trade negotiations with US officials, Wu Yi also announced that Chinese government had signed 107 contracts with US companies worth a total of 16.2 billion dollars.

She led a mission of some 200 business leaders, including 150 chief executives from the country's booming economy. The signed deals covered a range of sectors, including electronics, auto parts, heavy equipment and software.

At the conclusion of the trade talks, China was to sign a deal with the US aviation giant Boeing formalizing the purchase of 80 next generation 737 planes by the China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group.

A Boeing official put the value of the deal at 4.6 billion dollars.

The deal is expected to be finalized with individual Chinese carriers in the next few weeks.

The agreement is in addition to 70 airplanes China agreed to buy from the Chicago-based jetmaker in November, as part of a planned 150-plane purchase.

It was announced amid high-level meetings between Chinese and U.S. officials, and comes a week before Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit the United States. His trip includes a tour of Boeing's Everett, Wash. plant.

In December, China agreed to buy 150 of rival Airbus SAS' jets, in a deal valued at more than $9 billion at list prices.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China Daily Website
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