WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (AFP): A US trade delegation travelling to China next week will issue a fresh warning to Beijing to step up efforts to crack down on piracy and counterfeiting, an official said yesterday.
James Mendenhall, general counsel for the US Trade Representative's office (USTR), said the delegation he is heading will urge China to make further progress on intellectual property enforcement and will address another issue involving auto parts for the Chinese market.
Mendenhall told reporters that formal complaints to the World Trade Organisation are possible on both issues, although such action is not imminent.
The official said Washington is frustrated because China has failed to even respond to a US request for updated information on enforcement of intellectual property (IP) violations, such as pirated CDs, software and other items.
"We have pressed the Chinese hard on the IP front using a variety of tools. ... We have not seen the progress we would like to see," he said. "And we are running out of options."
He said the use of a formal WTO complaint "is on the table, (but) we're not at the retaliation stage yet."
Mendenhall said both sides agreed to meet "to see what information they can pull together in a reasonably quick time frame" on counterfeiting and piracy.
On the issue of auto parts, Mendenhall said US officials object to what appears to be domestic content requirements for autos made in China, with tariffs applied to certain imported parts.
As part of his visit, Mendenhall is to speak at the US Chamber of Commerce in Beijing Friday.
Washington is facing growing complaints over the bulging US trade deficit with China, which hit 201.6 billion dollars for 2005, up 24.5 per cent for the year.
Some critics and lawmakers argue that China benefits from an artificially low currency and various subsidies, offers few trade opportunities for US firms and does little to crack down on piracy of US patents and copyrights.