Trade minister Takeo Hiranuma and his U.S. counterpart agreed Tuesday to press China into complying with its commitments under the World Trade Organization, such as increasing its vehicle import quota, a Japanese trade official said.

In a 35-minute telephone conversation, Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick agreed to press China on the issues at an upcoming meeting of the WTO transitional review mechanism.

The annual review mechanism, which will start in late September, is designed to check China’s compliance with its terms of admission to the Geneva-based trade watchdog, which it joined in December.

Tokyo and Washington are concerned that Beijing might fail to fulfill its pledge to increase the $8 billion annual quota on auto imports by 15 percent every year up to 2005, the trade official said.

Along with the quota increases, China has promised to cut auto tariffs on a stage-by-stage basis toward 2005, when its quota system is scheduled to be scrapped, according to the official.

Hiranuma and Zoellick are also concerned about the widespread piracy of trademarks and copyrights in China and will urge Beijing to enhance measures to combat these activities.

Regarding a recent bilateral trade dispute stemming from the U.S. imposition in March of safeguard emergency tariffs on steel imports, Hiranuma told Zoellick that Tokyo has called off its planned retaliation in order to wait for a ruling by a WTO dispute-settlement panel.

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