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U.S. Commerce Secretary says market access, protectionism top China issues
September 27, 2017 / 2:33 AM / 22 days ago

U.S. Commerce Secretary says market access, protectionism top China issues

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross attends Forbes Global CEO Conference in Hong Kong, China September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

HONG KONG (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday the U.S. relationship with China was too lopsided and listed market access, protectionism and intellectual property as the biggest problems amid trade tensions between the two countries.

Ross said both sides were frank and open, and articulated good points of view during his trip to Beijing, which was a good sign, although neither made concessions.

“The most important thing to push for with China is better market access for companies operating there physically and for companies exporting there,” Ross said. “Ranking equal with that would be less protectionist behavior.”

The U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement on Tuesday that Ross had pressed China on the “need to rebalance bilateral trade and investment relations” and urged it to take “meaningful action” on trade issues.

China’s relationship with the United States has been strained by the Trump administration’s criticism of China’s trade practices and by demands that Beijing do more to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Ross, speaking to reporters in Hong Kong two days after his visit to Beijing, also said overcapacity was still a big issue in some sectors and highlighted new industries such as robotics as potential threats.

“There apparently are something like 400 robotics companies in China right now and people in the industry tell me maybe 360 of those are in it to get the subsidies and tax breaks and are not really serious about the product,” he said.

On Monday, Ross told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that the United States hoped for “very good deliverables” when U.S. President Donald Trump visits China, likely in November. He did not specify what “deliverables” the United States was hoping for.

Ross is due to lead a trade mission to China as part of President Trump’s visit there.

Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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