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US Mnuchin said trade talks with China in final laps; Verbal exchanges on IP theft continued elsewhere

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be in Beijing on Tuesday to start another round of trade talks with China. Ahead of that, Mnuchin was quoted saying “we’re getting into the final laps.” He also noted, “both sides have a desire to reach an agreement,” and “we’ve made a lot of progress.” Trump also said late week Chinese President Xi Jinping will come to the White House “soon” to seal the trade deal, without giving any details as usual.

But it’s also reported that significant differences remain, including in the area of intellectual property theft. In a UTRS report published last week, it’s criticized that “despite a broad government reorganization, including of intellectual-property responsibilities among government agencies, and proposed revisions to IP laws and regulations, China failed to make fundamental structural changes to strengthen IP protection and enforcement, open China’s market to foreign investment, allow the market a decisive role in allocating resources, and refrain from government interference in private sector technology transfer decisions.”

On Sunday, China hit back and denied the claims typically. National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA) Director Shen Changyu said that over 5,600 people in some 3,300 cases were arrested for intellectual property rights infringement in 2018. Shen added, “Some countries’ criticisms of China’s IP protection lack evidence and are non-specific.” And, “China has some problems and we are stepping up efforts to fix them. But meanwhile, IP infringement is a global problem that exists in every country”. “Every country should try to improve their business environment and fix their problems, instead of window dressing themselves,”

According to a USTR statement, this week’s meeting will cover issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will lead a delegation to Washington for additional discussions starting on May 8.

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