U.S., China ink maritime agreement

U.S., China ink maritime agreement

U.S. and Chinese delegates on Thursday initialed the first maritime treaty between the two nations since a 10-year agreement expired in 1998.

Officials meeting in San Francisco said that the agreement was "a very positive step forward" in relations, but did not offer details.

Maritime Administration delegates will brief State Department and Federal Maritime Administration officials when they return to Washington next week.

Delegates for both nations met to discuss the treaty in March 2002 in Beijing, and last April in Washington.

Marad officials called the meeting that ended April 9 constructive, but several issues remained unresolved, including China's requirement that non-vessel-operating common carriers post substantial cash bonds, and the confidentiality of service contract data.

The two nations allowed the last bilateral agreement to expire. U.S. officials were optimistic about the prospects of a renewal, but efforts sputtered as the Clinton administration came to an end.

In early 2002, China published a comprehensive maritime law and regulations as part of its accession agreement to the World Trade Organization.

The new law became a starting-point for new bilateral discussions that were held alternately in Beijing and Washington.

- R.G. Edmonson