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December 9, 2003

U.S. and China sign maritime agreement

The United States and China yesterday signed what's described as "the most far-reaching, five-year bilateral U.S.-China maritime agreement in the history of maritime trade between the two nations."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and China's Minister of Communications, Zhang Chunxian, signed a "sweeping agreement" that gives U.S. registered shipping companies the legal flexibility to perform an extensive range of new business activities in China, including logistic operations, and providing services for their own vessels and alliance partnerships.

Secretary Mineta said, "This new agreement strengthens the U.S. shipping industry by opening new markets in China and enhancing efficiencies in overseas shipping by allowing direct market access." He added, "It puts our shipping companies where the business is, closer to their markets and their customers."

The agreement offers U.S. companies similar privileges to those that Chinese companies already enjoy in the United States, he said.

"Based on free market principles, it opens significant new business opportunities for U.S. companies and their partners who do business in China," Mineta concluded.

Over 3.2 million containers transit via ship between China and the U.S. every year.

Maritime Administrator Captain William G. Schubert stated, "This agreement is expected to generate more business for American shipping and will facilitate more cargo moving across the Pacific. Positive employment benefits will result for the U.S. shipping industry and related industries associated with port operations and services, like trucking and rail."

The agreement is the culmination of discussions and negotiations that have taken place over the past five years between the United States and China.

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