China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan (3rd L) and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (3rd R) walk with their delegates after a group picture at the Strategic Economic Dialogue at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland June 18, 2008. [Agencies]
ANNAPOLIS -- China and the United States agree on the benefits of trade and see protectionism as counterproductive, China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Wednesday.
During the discussion on trade and competitiveness, both sides agreed that international trade is the best way to allocate national resources, Chen told reporters on the sidelines of the 4th round of the Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED).
US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez asserted the point by highlighting the relationship between the competitiveness of a corporation and the openness of a country as a whole, added Chen.
The Chinese commerce minister made his case by describing how US-China trade had benefited both countries in the 29 years since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations, with two-way trade growing 120-fold during this time.
Quoting a study by the US-China Business Council, an organization of US firms doing business in China, he said US-China trade has helped reduce inflation in the US and increased the household disposable income of Americans.
The Chinese side understands US concerns about the quality and safety of imported Chinese goods, but warns against abusing and manipulating the issue as a pretext for trade protectionism, Chen said.
China is willing to make more overseas investments, including expanding investments in the US, which will help China create a better international balance of payment and enhance global economic stability, he added.
Chen noted that a number of private Chinese businesses have made investments in the US and contributed to the American economy.
The two countries are also working on a bilateral investment protection agreement, he disclosed.
Expressing hope that the US government would relax hi-tech export restrictions, settle trade disputes through negotiation and push forward multilateral trade talks jointly with China, Chen urged the US to recognize China's market economy status.
Chen said he expects the SED process to move forward even as a new US government takes over next year, since maintaining a good trade relationship with China is central to US national interests.
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and US Secretary of Finance Henry Paulson are co-chairing the SED meeting as special representatives of the state leaders of the two countries.
"This is a successful meeting," Wang said.
Both sides held candid talks on issues of common interests and listens to the concerns of each other.
They also shared experience and views on current global economic and financial situation and on bilateral economic and trade relationship, and pledged to further cooperation via the SED platform.
Participants of the June 17-18 meeting include minister-level officials and other senior officials from the two governments.
The two-day discussions focused on five specific areas: financial and macro economic management, developing and protecting human capital, the benefits of trade and open markets, enhancing investment, and advancing joint opportunities for cooperation in energy and environment.
China and the United States will sign a 10-year cooperation agreement on energy and environmental protection after the meeting.