China Must Open Markets To U.S., State Department Official Warns

By Agence France-Presse China's lucrative access to U.S. consumers could spark a public backlash unless it returns the favor by prying open more of its markets to U.S. goods, a senior State Department official warned on Sept. 11. James Kelly, the State Department's top East Asia hand, insisted Beijing must play by global trade rules as new government figures showed the yawning U.S. trade gap with China grew 13% from the previous month to US$11.3 billion. The brewing trade row with Beijing is becoming a testy issue a year ahead of the next U.S. elections, with the labor lobby claiming thousands of jobs are being lost to low-wage competitors in China. "We want to eliminate any and all unfair trade practices that contribute to this deficit and are working with China to open its markets further," said Kelly in prepared testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Kelly said that he had made clear to China that the Sino-U.S. trade relationship was based on open markets and "playing by the rules." "Maintaining domestic support for open markets to China will become increasingly difficult without demonstrated support in China for open markets to U.S. goods and services." Kelly said that he had noted some "encouraging signs" as U.S. exports to China had grown nearly 25% this year. "Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement," he said. U.S. officials have long expected that pressing China to fully adhere to the commitments demanded by its entry into the World Trade Organization will prove a tricky foreign policy challenge. But they argue that large benefits await U.S. consumers and jobseekers down the line from expanded market opportunities in China. Industry lobby groups, however, claim that Beijing has been dumping discount price goods including textiles and furniture on U.S. markets, causing American workers to lose their jobs. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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