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Biden's China visit help produce bilateral agreements

  |   Dec. 6, 2013 at 1:15 AM
BEIJING, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The United States and China reached agreements on energy, climate change and food and drug safety on the sidelines of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit.

While much of the attention on Biden's visit remained focused on security issues including U.S. concerns over China's recent establishment of a controversial air defense zone in the East China Sea, the two sides also held discussions on strengthening their equally important economic relations under the framework of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

A Joint Fact Sheet issued Thursday said both sides affirmed their commitment to implement fully the concrete measures pledged by each of them to "further support strong domestic and global growth, promote open trade and investment, enhance international rules and global economic governance, and foster financial market stability and reform."

Briefing the media aboard the plane taking Biden from Beijing to South Korea on the final leg of his Asia visit, a senior U.S. administration official said on the climate side, both sides shared a special responsibility to work together as they are the two largest emitters.

"And today, we reaffirmed the agreements on the HFCs that the two presidents had reached in Sunnylands originally, and expanded in St. Petersburg," the official said, referring to the consensus reached by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping on hydrofluorocarbons in June and September of this year.

"We also reached agreement that China would work with us to design and then implement much more aggressive emissions controls and standards for vehicles -- low-sulfur fuel and vehicle emissions, known as the China VI standards, which is the first time that they've committed to that," the official said.

The senior administration official said the United States and China agreed to work together in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, which will be an important forward step in those multilateral negotiations.

The two sides also reached agreement to enhance transparency in the energy sector.

"The U.S. Energy Information Administration commits to share expertise in gathering and distributing energy data. China is to develop the capacity to publish more complete public energy statistics on a more frequent basis, and enable stronger cooperation with the Joint Organizations Data Initiative," the joint fact sheet said.

"The United States and China are to cooperate on strategic petroleum reserves, through information exchanges on policies, management, and technologies and through annual technical meetings of U.S. and China strategic petroleum reserve authorities."

Agreement on food and drug safety was important as the United States is a major importer, the senior administration official said.

The official said there are already U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors based in China but more were needed.

"And China today agreed to increase the number -- increase the visas supplied for these inspectors, and we'll reach agreement in January 2014 on how that will be operationalized. But I know that the FDA will be very pleased," the official said.

In the area of drug manufacture, the two sides reached important agreement on active pharmaceutical ingredients or APIs, which are chemicals used in making drugs.

He said China agreed to begin to develop a regulatory framework for these chemical compounds.

"And there will be more work on that, but it's an important step forward in drug safety," he said.

On ensuring pharmaceutical inventions receive patent protection with changing technologies, the official said China affirmed "this kind of development of patents would be possible now, which supports drug innovation and will be an important win for our industry."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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