US envoy to spur stalled trade talks
UNITED STATES Deputy Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky will arrive in Beijing today to join in trade talks with China in an attempt to hammer out a compromise and avert an international trade war.
Ms Barshefsky has participated in the earlier rounds of negotiations on China's violations of intellectual property rights.
Her participation will take the negotiations to another level. Until now the US negotiations had been headed by deputy-assistant US trade representative Lee Sands.
Ms Barshefsky will join in the negotiations immediately and her presence has raised hopes that a deal can be struck in this round of talks.
She was invited to Beijing by China's Vice-Foreign Trade Minister Sun Zhenyu.
The property rights issue has been under negotiation since the middle of last year.
The US has not backed down from its key demand that 29 factories in southern China - believed to be churning out 75 million pirated compact discs (CDs) annually for export - be shut down.
Over the weekend, the Chinese announced that two factories producing pirate CDs in southern Guangdong and the Jiangsu province have been shut down.
The two plants are believed to be among the 29 singled out.
US trade representatives set February 26 as the deadline for both parties to resolve the issue before activating sanctions against China.
The sanctions will involve tariffs on US$1.08 billion worth of goods.