After much wrangling, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has negotiated some important agreements with China:
Ranchers, effectively barred from the Chinese market since 2003 after a scare over mad cow disease, will get renewed access to China and potentially billions of dollars in new sales. Alternative-energy companies will no longer have to build demonstration projects in China before bidding on wind projects there; telecommunications firms will avoid rules that favor locally developed technology; government industrial catalogs will be rewritten so they are not biased against imported equipment and capital goods; and software companies should benefit as Chinese government agencies are pressed to use only legally licensed software.
While much of the focus on the U.S.-China relationship concerns macrolevel debates over currency valuation and the balance of trade, the action is taking place on a microlevel. Barriers to trade come in all shapes and sizes, and it's easier to focus on one specific industry than to see a dramatic shift in China's export-driven economic strategy.
-- Tim Fernholz