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25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Concludes with Key Outcomes

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Chicago, IL

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hosted a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Yang for the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which took place in Chicago. At the conclusion of the discussions, the United States announced key outcomes in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement.

Through sustained engagement over the course of this past year, the United States and China have reached agreement in several areas of key importance to U.S. farmers, innovators, manufacturers and workers, including in the following areas:

  • Agriculture market access:  China has made commitments that should promote significant increases in U.S. exports of soybeans, corn and dairy products to China.  Specifically, China announced that it would approve the importation of new biotechnology varieties of U.S. soybeans and corn ­– current annual U.S. exports of soybeans and corn to China total $14 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively – and also that it would pursue a regular dialogue with the United States focused on the benefits of the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture, for both the United States and China. China also agreed to strong IP protections for products that use trademarks or common names like "parmesan" or "feta" cheese, which in recent years have begun to demonstrate a potential for rapid export growth vis-à-vis China.
  • IPR protection:  China's IPR-related commitments cover a range of needed improvements, which should benefit U.S. businesses in a wide variety of industries that rely on the ability to protect their trade secrets, as well as U.S. holders of patents, trademarks and copyrights. For example, in the area of trade secrets, building on prior bilateral commitments made by China, the United States has gained China’s agreement to take specific additional steps to protect companies’ trade secrets and to work on a new trade secrets law to further enhance their protections.  The United States also has secured China’s agreement to, among other things, bring new focus to the two countries’ work together to determine how best to foster a better environment for facilitating increased sales of legitimate intellectual property-intensive goods and services in China.
  • Innovation policies:  The United States continued to pursue changes to Chinese policies and practices that have pressured foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property rights to enterprises in China.  For example, China committed to ensure that they treat foreign IP rights the same as domestic IP rights.  China also has agreed to streamline China’s regulatory processes and cut red tape for imports of new, innovative pharmaceuticals and medical devices, which should lead to increases in U.S. exports and U.S. jobs in these two important sectors.  Indeed, according to industry data, the U.S. pharmaceuticals industry directly employs more than 810,000 workers and supports a total of 3.4 million jobs in the United States, while annual exports of U.S. pharmaceutical products to China have exceeded $1.2 billion.  The U.S. medical device industry, meanwhile, includes over 7,000 companies, most with less than 100 employees, supports 1.9 million U.S. jobs overall, and was responsible for $2.7 billion in exports to China in 2013. 
  • Competition policy enforcement:  The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement.  The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings.  China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

Guest blog post by Raul Cisneros, director, Center for New Media and Promotion and Rebecca Blash, chief, Center for Enterprise Dissemination Services and Consumer Innovation (CEDSCI), U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to operational excellence by making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible than ever before. In an age of instant communication and 24/7 information sharing, the needs and expectations of the Census Bureau’s data users have changed. We have listened to our customers, and this is what we have heard: Our users want easy access to timely, relevant statistics. They want access anywhere and anytime.  And, they want their data to be shareable, embeddable, downloadable and customizable.

In response, the Census Bureau has undertaken a comprehensive digital transformation effort, developing new tools using the latest technologies.  Almost 50 million people visit Census.gov annually, and we’ve made major improvements to the site so that they can more easily find the information they want. We also created an application programming interface (API) to increase the accessibility and usability of our data. The API gives developers quick and easy access to an ever-increasing pool of publicly available data, allowing them to create Web or mobile apps. More than 7,000 developers have requested access to the API, and the databases have been queried more than 600 million times. Because these apps subsequently reach new users, they have the added benefit of increasing the circulation of our demographic, socioeconomic and housing statistics even more.

We also want to make our data accessible and appealing to as wide an audience as possible. Our three mobile apps are a good example of this. America’s Economy provides real-time updates of 20 key economic indicators, making it easy for casual or serious followers of the U.S. economy to see the latest trends. Our two other tools, dwellr (an app that helps users discover cities and towns that fit their lifestyle) and Census PoP Quiz (a population challenge quiz), tap into statistical information from the American Community Survey for casual data users.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center Implements New Products to Help U.S. Coastal Communities Become More Resilient

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center Implements New Products to Help U.S. Coastal Communities Become More Resilient

The 2014 hurricane season is over and, once again, no major hurricanes (Category 3 of higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) struck the United States. That's a record nine years in row! Of course, it's foolish to believe this remarkable streak will last, and we have to be ready for it to end next season. 

The stakes couldn't be higher. In its latest figures, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau finds 185 coastal counties along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, home to 58 million people, at risk to a hurricane. It all comes down to preparation, education and accurate forecasting. It's easy to see why one of NOAA's primary goals is to provide the information and services to help communities become more resilient. 

With that in mind, this year the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to complement its text-only product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. This new outlook provided easy to understand graphics depicting the likelihood of development and the potential formation areas of new tropical cyclones over a five day period. The hurricane center also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North Carolina coastline, the map highlighted those geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground that the water could reach. This information was vital for emergency management authorities and the public in the affected areas. 

Additionally, upgrades to NOAA’s newest hurricane model, the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF), produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts in the Atlantic basin through the season. The model, developed by NOAA researchers, is also providing guidance on tropical cyclones around the world and is used by several international operational forecast agencies. All of these improvements are an integral part of the ongoing evolution currently underway at NOAA's National Weather Service.