AN advance team of 15 officials from the United States Commerce Department were yesterday still discussing in Beijing final details of a series of contracts and agreements to be signed during Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's presidential mission to China, which starts tomorrow. The department is hoping to sign a package of deals worth about US$6 billion, but the exact amount is unlikely to be known until the actual signing on Monday. Chinese and US officials had yet to reach full agreement on the financing arrangements for the export and investment deals due to be signed, sources close to the negotiations said. China wants the US to provide generous loans and export credits similar to those granted by Germany and other European countries, something the US has so far been reluctant to do. However, senior commerce officials, including Under-Secretary Jeffrey Garten, have indicated the US was prepared to offer a much more attractive package than has previously in order to secure a foothold in the mainland market. ''We have to be realistic, we have to understand the nature of the competition [in China]. We are in great stead with the quality of American firms . . . but speaking for the administration, we have to take the most far-reaching steps we can to work with US firms in order to stay with the competition,'' Mr Garten said during his most recent visit to Beijing. The contracts to be signed are mainly in the fields of energy, transport, chemicals and telecommunications, all sectors where China has traditionally demanded and received credit support. The US and China are also due to sign a long-term framework agreement for future trade and commercial co-operation and lend further support to the industrial sector working groups established during Trade Minister Wu Yi's visit to the US in April. To underline the US commitment to the China market, Mr Brown will be accompanied by 24 senior executives from major American companies including Westinghouse, Bell Atlantic and Chrysler. The bulk of Mr Brown's meetings will be with senior Chinese trade and industry officials where he is expected to raise the issues of China's $23 billion trade surplus with the US, intellectual property rights protection and the mainland's re-entry into General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Although Mr Brown's schedule has not been finalised, he is expected to meet a senior government leader, either Premier Li Peng or President Jiang Zemin, which would provide him with a forum to voice US concerns over human rights. However, Mr Brown is expected to raise those concerns in much more low key manner than did Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen during their visits earlier this year in connection with China's most favoured nation (MFN) status. US officials have made it clear that in the ''post-MFN era'' human rights would have to take second place to commerce and trade. After two full days of talks in Beijing, Mr Brown goes to Shanghai on Tuesday and on to Guangzhou before arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon.