U.S., China Call For More Trade, Not Protectionism

China's huge trade surplus with the U.S should be addressed through increased U.S. exports to China and not protectionist moves by Washington, commerce chiefs from the two sides agreed here on Nov. 13.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and his counterpart Bo Xilai offered an upbeat assessment of bilateral trade ties after meeting on Nov. 13, despite continued growth in the political sensitive trade imbalance. Both noted growing American imports to China and the need for more. "Our exports to China are up 34% in 2006 on a year-to-date basis. We now export about $50 billion of services and merchandise to China. The future should be focused on exporting to China," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez arrived Nov.12 for a five-day visit aimed at pushing for greater access to China's markets for U.S. goods and halting the pirating of American copyrights.

In comments quoted by state media, Bo denied China was trying to maintain a trade surplus, noting that the rapidly developing country was expected to become the U.S.' third-largest export market next year. He called the trade situation "relatively balanced", but added that China would "endeavor to balance trade" with the U.S.

Vice Premier Wu Yi, who met later with Gutierrez, was less apologetic, suggesting American companies did not understand China's market. "I hope that by enhancing your understanding about this market place, you can get better access into this market," she said. "We welcome the exports of your country. The Chinese market is completely opened to the outside world."

The tone of Gutierrez's visit has so far differed markedly from one last week by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who bluntly called on China to remove trade barriers such as restrictions on entering key sectors and complex business procedures that inhibit outsiders.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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