By Paul Eckert
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will use economic talks next week with China to focus on intellectual property rights protection and China's "indigenous innovation" industrial policy which discriminates against foreign firms, U.S. Trade representative Ron Kirk said on Tuesday.
"Our next steps with China include continued pressure to strengthen their IPR regime -- and to step back on their flawed and troubling policies across the industrial sector, like indigenous innovation," he said in remarks prepared for a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
Many foreign companies have objected to Chinese policies aimed at increasing China's share of the world's most valuable patents and trademarks by requiring companies to develop and register intellectual property in China to qualify for government procurement preferences.
The so-called indigenous innovation policy -- seen by outsiders as a sign that China is retreating from steps it has taken to open its economy to foreign companies -- will be raised by top U.S. officials in the bilateral Strategic & Economic Dialogue in Beijing on May 24-25, Kirk said.
The issue of intellectual property rights stems from China's failure to curb counterfeiting of manufactured products ranging from software and Hollywood movies to pharmaceuticals.
Kirk said he and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke would also pursue those issues at the bilateral Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, which follow those talks.
Efforts to conclude the stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks faced a "key road block" from the developing countries, he said.
"Make no mistake: The success or failure of Doha depends on whether advanced developing countries like Brazil, China and India accept the responsibility that goes along with their growing roles in the global economy," he said.
"If we do that, then we can have a successful conclusion to this round," said Kirk.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Thomas Donohue last week criticized the Obama administration for its reluctance to complete free trade pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
The deals were signed by the George W. Bush administration, but not approved by the U.S. side in the face of opposition from labor unions. U.S. economists and business leaders complain that the United States is being sidelined while competitors move ahead on trade deals.
Kirk said he was working with the U.S. Congress and other stakeholders to move ahead with the pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
"The Obama administration understands and values the economic benefit and strategic relationship with each of these three important friends and economies," he said.
"There is no reason for us to leave the United States at a competitive disadvantage," while other countries forge free trade pacts, added Kirk.
"I want these done," he said.
South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jung-hoon told the chamber that U.S. businesses were "facing opportunity costs" with the delay, because in the three years since the bilateral pact was signed, Seoul has reached free trade deals with the European Union and Australia and was also talking to China.
"The cost of inaction keeps rising and U.S. workers and companies are the ones who are the victims of this inaction," Kim said.
(Reporting by Paul Eckert, Editing by Eric Walsh)