By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
WASHINGTON -- Obama administration officials said Wednesday they plan to raise a range of trade issues, from copyright piracy to China's restrictions on U.S. farm products, during two days of high-level talks next week in China.
"It is critical that we make progress on several priority issues, including intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, clean energy, medical devices and pharmaceuticals," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.
Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will head a U.S. delegation for the 20th round of meetings of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. The forum began in 1983 as a way to iron out trade differences between the two countries.
This year's discussions will take place on Oct. 27-28 in Hangzhou, China. The Chinese delegation will be led by Vice Premier Wang Qishan.
China has sharply criticized an administration decision last month to impose stiff tariffs on Chinese tire imports to protect U.S. manufacturers. But U.S. officials briefing reporters on Wednesday said they did not expect that dispute to derail progress in other trade areas
The administration last week refrained from designating China as a currency manipulator even though American manufacturers contend that China's management of its currency is a primary reason for the huge trade deficits the U.S. has with China. U.S. officials said currency would not be a primary focus of next week's talks.
U.S. officials refused to discuss areas of potential breakthroughs, but Kirk said the talks would give both sides a chance to identify steps that need to be taken to ensure that trade between the two nations was "fair, sustainable and mutually beneficial going forward."