updated 6/23/2006 2:36:47 PM ET 2006-06-23T18:36:47

A new federal office is being set up solely to concentrate on making sure that China lives up to its trade obligations.

The plan, announced by new U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab Friday, reflects growing impatience in Congress with Beijing's slow pace in correcting practices regarded as illegal or unfair.

Schwab also is establishing a new intellectual property office. China has been cited by the administration as a chief source of intellectual property piracy that costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars in losses every year.

"Between these two initiatives it's another step forward to ensure that the United States is active and aggressive in enforcement of our rights under trade agreements," Schwab said at a news conference with House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Blunt welcomed the USTR moves, noting that it was critically important that China be a responsible trading partner. "This is an item of significant member concern."

There has been increasing pressure on the administration from members of Congress to crack down on China because of its failure to move aggressively to meet its World Trade Organization obligations to open up its markets to American goods and financial services and protect intellectual property.

There also have been complaints about China's reluctance to adjust its currency against the U.S. dollar, one factor behind China's trade surplus with the United States that hit a record $200 billion last year.

Schwab, who took the job earlier this month, said she was appointing Claire E. Reade to serve as chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement. Reade is an international trade litigator who has represented U.S. and foreign clients in trade disputes and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Named to head the new Intellectual Property Office at the USTR is Assistant Trade Representative Victoria A. Espinel, who has been the agency's chief adviser on intellectual property matters.

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