The Biden administration is engaging with China in an effort to win approval for Boeing Co.’s 737 Max planes, which remain banned in the country even as other jurisdictions have reauthorized it following crashes.

“We’re absolutely working on it,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg Television’s David Westin. “China’s a big market, and we have to make sure American companies can do business there and export there.”

The Max has returned to service in most of the Americas and Europe after two deadly crashes more than two years ago. But China, the first country to ground the Max, has yet to lift its ban on flying the plane. The country’s airlines last announced orders for the single-aisle workhorse when Barack Obama was in the White House.

“China’s civil aviation authorities maintain communication with the FAA in the U.S. and the relevant U.S. business, and they are advancing relevant work in an orderly and positive way,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

Raimondo spoke earlier this month with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, following a call between U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and China’s senior economic official Liu He late last month. But the two countries have yet to resume formal trade negotiations since President Joe Biden took office and initiated a broad review of China relations.

Raimondo also said she had spoken with Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun.


Raimondo noted that Tuesday brought positive news for Boeing, with the U.S. and the European Union agreeing to extend a tariff truce for five years -- parking a dispute over aircraft subsidies given to Airbus SE and Boeing that saw the allies impose duties on US$11.5 billion of each other’s exports.

That accord turns the page on a key conflict in former President Donald Trump’s trade war and sets the stage for a new era of transatlantic cooperation over state aid at a time when China is vying to displace the Boeing-Airbus civil aircraft duopoly.

The agreement was driven, in part, by a growing awareness among policy makers in Brussels and Washington that China’s state-sponsored aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, or Comac, is on track to become a legitimate rival in global planemaking by the end of the decade.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told reporters in Brussels her confidence level is high that the U.S. and EU can cooperate effectively against non-market economies like China.

“Because we are putting away our litigation briefcases, and we have committed to each other to sit down at the table and to discuss pragmatically what is going to be best for competition between us in the context of a world where our industries and workers will be facing competition like we’ve never seen before,” she said during a press conference.