Trade talks with China progress slowly

October 26, 1991|By Robert Benjamin | Robert Benjamin,Beijing Bureau of The Sun

BEIJING -- After four days of high-level talks here, a senior U.S. trade negotiator yesterday reported only incremental progress by China in eliminating barriers to U.S. exports and violations of U.S. copyrights and patents.

"It's a maze," Joseph A. Massey, an assistant U.S. trade representative, said in characterizing the negotiations over two formal U.S. investigations of the Chinese trade malpractices. "We keep going down the same path, and we can't find an exit to what the Chinese call common ground."

Both inquiries could result in the United States enacting punitive duties on selected Chinese products.

The high tariffs would be placed on products for which the United States had other sources so U.S. consumers would not face higher prices, Mr. Massey said.

One of the U.S. investigations -- of Chinese violations of intellectual property rights -- could end late next month.

The pirating of foreign publications, computer software and music tapes is widespread in China, with U.S. industry groups estimating their damage as at least $400 million.

The second investigation -- of Chinese market barriers to U.S. products -- would not lead to U.S. action until after next October, Mr. Massey said. He indicated these talks had seen even less progress.

U.S. trade officials have identified four types of Chinese market barriers for American exports: import quotas and prohibitions; restrictive licensing requirements for Chinese importers; unnecessary testing requirements for imports; and a lack of "transparency" in the form of published trade regulations.

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