Trade tops agenda of China-US dialogue
2009-Jul-28 07:06:41

If the two nations participating in the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SAED) emerge from the high-level talks with one thing, it should be an agreement to cooperate on stabilizing bilateral trade.

Trade tops agenda of China-US dialogue
China's State Councillor Dai Bingguo (L) and China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan (C) listen as US President Barack Obama addresses the opening of the first joint meeting of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington July 27, 2009. [Agencies]

And if they manage to bring about that stabilization, the impact will benefit not only both economies but help the struggling global economy recover, said Wang Rongjun, a professor in the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"China and the US have never been more eager than now to push forward with bilateral trade," Wang said. "Cooperation will be the tone of the dialogue."

New energy and climate change will also be among the most important topics up for discussion at the SAED sessions that were set for yesterday and today, say experts.

While foreign media and many experts were playing down what was likely to be achieved through the talks, Wang argues that the dialogue "already means a great achievement" for bilateral trade and economic relations because it could bring together Chinese and American high-level officials, including US President Barack Obama and Vice-Premier Wang Qishan.

In terms of trade and investment, delegates are likely to talk about protectionism, the opening and enlarging of investment in both countries' economies and the idea of seeing China join the government procurement agreement under the World Trade Organization.

"Progress will be made anyway both will seek possible ways to assist each other in preventing trade from further sliding," Wang said.

The US has been greatly concerned about narrowing the trade gap with China.

Although the Chinese trade surplus with the US is reduced this year, the US said it will emphasize that "China cannot rely on exports to the US" and that it needs to turn to "domestic consumption" for economic improvement.

The US also plans to press Beijing to transform its domestic economic structure.

Chinese economists said the US is hoping to gain from booming domestic consumption in China, reducing the high jobless rate.

They have said they believe China is well on track to boost domestic consumption, but they do not believe China should play such an important role in bringing the US out of recession.

Experts believe the US will also be pressing the Chinese government to sign the government procurement agreement.

"The US expects to benefit from the Chinese stimulus package, but it's hard for China to conclude that will happen in such a short period of time," said Zhou Shijian, executive director of the WTO Research Institute.

Trade protectionism in the US that has hurt Chinese exports has been an increasing problem since late 2008. The latest case involves Chinese tire exports and is awaiting the attention of Obama. The Chinese delegation is expected to remind the US of the rise in protectionism, said Wang, who urged the US to end the practice in the interests of accelerating the global economic recovery.

Both China and the US will hope opportunities to invest in each other's economies will increase. They have initiated talks on China-US investment agreement, but it's hard to push the deal forward, said Wang.

"The US always tends to regard large-scale Chinese investment as a threat," Wang said.

China and the US are one another's second-largest trading partners. In 2008, bilateral trade was worth $333.7 billion.

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