Nation pledges to cut trade surplus ahead of Paulson visit

Updated: 2006-12-09 11:06

China's leaders pledged to cut its soaring trade surplus in an economic plan for 2007 issued ahead of a visit next week by US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for talks on commerce and other contentious issues.

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The plan, reported Friday by state media, calls for boosting imports, with an aim to bring them in line with booming exports, and encouraging domestic consumption. It was issued after a three-day meeting this week led by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

"Chinese leaders pledged to redouble efforts to vigorously expand imports and overseas investment," the Xinhua News Agency said. It said they would make "balancing international payments a major goal for next year."

Paulson and Chinese leaders are due to hold talks next week in Beijing as part of a wide-ranging "strategic dialogue" on trade and other issues. The secretary, Washington's point man on economic relations with Beijing, is under pressure from American companies to take a hard line on currency policies and greater market access for foreign competitors.

China's latest plan is in line with the Communist Party's long-term goal of reducing reliance on exports and shifting the basis of economic growth to domestic consumer spending.

But it isn't clear how effectively it can be carried out because the government has been struggling to enforce directives on an economy that is increasingly driven by private business.

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