WASHINGTON -- China has agreed to crack down on copyright piracy of American computer programs and lift a ban on US beef as part of an effort to reduce a record $202 billion trade gap, the Bush administration said yesterday.
The agreements were two of several made by China during a high-level meeting designed to reduce trade tensions in advance of next week's US visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
''Our message to China has been consistent and clear," US Trade Representative Rob Portman said at a joint news conference. ''American exporters, workers, farmers, and service providers deserve the same access that China has to our markets," Portman added.
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said China, at the direction of top country officials, has been working earnestly to increase imports from the United States.
Wu noted that she is traveling with a delegation of more than 200 Chinese business executives with the expectation that they will sign 107 contracts to buy $16.2 billion in US products.
Included in that is a deal to purchase 80 commercial airplanes from Boeing Corp., at a list price of $4.6 billion.
The administration said that in the area of piracy, the Chinese agreed to require that computers use legal software and to step up enforcement of intellectual property rights. They also pledged to close Chinese optical disk plants that are producing pirated CDs and DVDs.
In her comments, Wu said regulations would be issued stipulating that all computers sold in China must have legal operating systems.
US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said China had agreed to reopen its market to US beef after clearing up some remaining technical issues. ''We both committed to work closely together to do this quickly," he said at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.
The administration has been pushing the Chinese for greater commitments to deal with trade barriers, which US firms contend are costing them billions of dollars in lost sales, and to stop holding down the value of their currency in relation to the dollar.
The administration is under growing political pressure to show progress in dealing with a soaring trade deficit with China that critics say has contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000.
The administration said China also agreed to begin negotiations to join an agreement administered by the World Trade Organization that governs the standards foreign companies must meet when bidding for government contracts. Gutierrez said China would submit its proposal on how it would follow the WTO procedures no later than the end of 2007.
This was critical for companies that hoped to break into China's multibillion market for government contracts.