China is likely to ink mega import deals, possibly amounting to $12 billion,
with the United States during the second Sino-US strategic economic dialogue
next month, in a move to narrow the trade gap.
The talks, which will be co-chaired by Vice-Premier Wu Yi and US Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson, are the highest-profile dialogue mechanism over
economic issues between the two.
The proposed procurement delegation is likely to be led by Vice-Minister of
Commerce Ma Xiuhong, covering a wide range of US agricultural and industrial
products, from soybean and cotton manufacturing machinery to electronic
The delegation will visit Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington.
Though there's no official word on the possible procurement spree, if it does
materialize, it will be seen as the latest move by China to cut its trade
surplus with the US that totaled over $144 billion in 2006.
This round of Sino-US dialogue is expected to be tense as the US government
has just referred China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over intellectual
property right issues and for allegedly restricting distribution of foreign
music, films and books.
Chinese enterprises last year signed about $16 billion in import deals with
their US counterparts on products ranging from soybean to aircraft during
President Hu Jintao's visit to the US.
These organized procurements reflect China's intention to address the trade
imbalance, said Zhang Liping, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences. But some experts argued the proposed procurement would only have a
short-term impact on the Sino-US trade gap.
In order to pursue a more balanced trade with some key trade partners like
the US, the Chinese government has been encouraging imports. Wang Xinpei,
spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, last week said China was studying more
means to enlarge imports.