Bush urges Americans to reject protectionism
Updated: 2006-03-11 09:34
U.S. President George W. Bush urged Americans on Friday to reject rising
protectionist sentiment in his country, but he compromised somewhat by pledging
to keep the pressure on China to float China's currency and take other steps to
reduce a record U.S. trade deficit.
"I am worried about isolation and
protectionism," Bush said in the wake of the collapse of the Dubai ports deal,
the Associated Press reported.
George W. Bush makes remarks at the National Newspaper Association
Government Affairs Conference in Washington, March 10, 2006.
"To me it's a lack of confidence in our ability to shape the future and I
think it would be wrong economic policy," Bush told a group of U.S. newspaper
publishers in Washington D.C.
The widening U.S. trade deficit, which the U.S. Commerce Department said
Thursday hit a record $68.5 billion in January, has become a growing political
issue in the United States. In January's trade figures the US-China deficit
jumped by 9.9 percent, to US$17 billion. The deficit with Canada, America's
largest trade partner,increased by 11.1 percent, and the U.S.-India deficit shot
up 61.3 percent.
The US Congress is increasing pressure on the Bush administration to toughen
its stance on Beijing's trade practices in the lead up to President Hu Jintao's
Washington visit late next month.
The uproar over the failed bid by Dubai Ports World to manage six U.S. ports
recalled a bid by China's CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation) Ltd.
earlier last year to buy American oil company Unocal. CNOOC abandoned the plan
after it found the its acquisition plan caused an unexpectgede over-heated
controversy in the United States.
Bush told American editors that he has constantly urged the Chinese to
improve the trade climate by offering a "level playing field" for U.S.
manufacturers. "Intellectual property rights need to be protected. Your currency
needs to be floated. Treat our people fairly," Bush said.
Bush's comments came as top officials in his administration, including
Treasury Secretary John Snow, have ratcheted up their rhetoric over China's yuan
According to the Associated Press report, Bush discussed the complexity of
the U.S. relationship with China -- not only economically but on the national
security front as well -- when he was asked at the newspaper publishers' forum
whether Iran, North Korea or China represented the greatest threat.