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U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman Preview Upcoming U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

Friday, December 12, 2014
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Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman previewed the upcoming U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

From December 16-18, Secretary Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will host a high-level Government of China delegation in Chicago, and for the first time, the JCCT schedule includes a full day of events designed to facilitate private sector engagement with officials from the U.S. and Chinese governments. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will also participate. The goal of this enhanced program is to expand the scope of the JCCT with engagement between businesses from both countries.

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. High-level plenary meetings are held annually and are co-chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the United States Trade Representative, and the Chinese Vice Premier in charge of trade and investment issues. Sixteen JCCT Working Groups meet throughout the year to address topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology, and travel and tourism.

Remarks as Delivered by Secretary Pritzker

For the first time, we are hosting this in Chicago. We’ve chosen a location outside of Washington as part of our effort to reimagine and reinvigorate the JCCT. We’ve also invited our respective business communities to attend. The event will include aside from the formal part of JCCT, strategic conversations on issues such as foreign direct investment, travel and tourism, and excess capacity.

We chose Chicago because it’s home to more than 1,800 foreign companies from 45 countries that employ more than 22,000 people.

As you know as well, Chicago has the most diversified economy in the United States with no single industry employing more than 14% of the city’s workforce. There are strong ties between the United States and China, and Chicago has particularly strong ties with an estimated 40 mainland China-owned companies in greater Chicago and 150 Chicago area companies with locations in mainland China. Illinois companies also export 5.6 billion dollars in goods and services to China in 2013, so we thought this would be a perfect location for the reimagined JCCT.

The goal of the JCCT is to build upon the President’s recent visit to China and meetings with President Xi, where they agreed to deepen our economic ties and enhance our bilateral engagements, so this is an effort to build on the success of the President’s trip. The JCCT is a time and place for the Administration’s economic team to take center stage in addressing issues and work on issues so that we can have more business done between our two countries.

Today, China is our third largest export market. We sold $161 billion of goods and services to China in 2013, and it’s our fourth largest market for services exports. Our total bilateral trade relationship is $617 billion in 2013.

Just to end, and I’ll turn it over to the Ambassador in one minute, this effort, the JCCT is a culmination of 16 working groups that have meeting throughout the year on topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceutical and medical devices, information technology, travel and tourism and many other issues. Our teams have been working closely with the Chinese to try and improve our trade and commercial relationship, and the bottom line is we want more collaboration and cooperation and constructive engagement with China, and the JCCT is an important place for us to get our work done.


Remarks as Delivered by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman

Thank you very much, Secretary Pritzker, and I am delighted to be co-chairing the JCCT with you in Chicago, and we are enormously grateful to you and the people of Chicago for the hospitality, and the warm hospitality that will be on offer there next week.

Before I talk about the JCCT, let me just take one step back to talk about the U.S.-China relationship, and build on some of the things that Secretary Pritzker said.

Since 1983, when the first JCCT was held, our exports to China have grown by more than 50 times, and our bilateral investment has also skyrocketed, with China's stock of investment in the U.S. now rising to more than $8 billion, one of the fastest growing sources of investment in the United States. In just over three decades, China went from being our 22nd largest trading partner, now to being our second largest trading partner.

And for the U.S., that has meant our exports to China have increased, and that has meant more good-paying jobs supported by trade, it's meant more competitive businesses, it's meant more consumer choice, as well.

As Secretary Pritzker said, Chicago and Illinois are prime examples of states that have seen an expansion of trade and investment in both directions. To just add to that, Chicago is America's leading hub for air exports to China, responsible for more than one quarter of all American air exports to China.

With regard to the JCCT and our vision for the future of this relationship, the future of our bilateral relationship will depend on building on two critical components: mutual interest and mutual respect.  Mutual interest means unlocking opportunity in both of our countries, expanding trade, creating a level playing field for our workers and businesses, and lowering barriers to investment.  And mutual respect means having candid conversations about areas where we disagree and putting creative, bold ideas on the table to try and bridge those differences. 

The JCCT has been a valuable tool for helping in both regards, both building mutual respect and pursuing mutual interests.

This year, as Secretary Pritzker mentioned, we've been focused on reimagining the JCCT, and sharpening this tool by creating new opportunities for direct private sector participation and increasing our senior-level engagement.    And those conversations will only make it more effective to address our trade and investment issues.

We've been talking over the course of the year about greater market access for U.S. goods and services, protection of intellectual property, including trade secrets, about promoting an efficient and level playing field in China, and about securing best practices in regulatory enforcement, among other issues.

We talked about agriculture, services, manufacturing, excess capacity issues that are faced in China, as well as China's application of its anti-monopoly law, to make sure it's used in a non-discriminatory fashion. And those conversations will continue next week, as well.

As Secretary Pritzker said, the JCCT isn't just a meeting, it's a process. A year-long process, with extensive teams on both sides, working with each other to try and address these issues, and this will come to a head next week when we have an opportunity to review the progress made and address some of the outstanding issues. And I'm very excited to be part of this with Secretary Pritzker in Chicago next week to bring that to a close.