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White House sets up China trade office
Updated: 2004-04-14 10:24

The Bush administration announced Tuesday the creation of a new office under the U.S. Trade Representative to handle the country's growing trade relationship with China.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said creation of an Office of China Affairs was part of a reorganization of his agency designed to focus on increasingly important trade issues.

As part of the reorganization, Congress gave the USTR $2 million in extra money to hire more attorneys and trade experts, who will focus on such issues as IPR protection and China's manufacturing policies.

The Bush administration is under pressure to show more results toward narrowing America's huge trade deficit with China, which, as claimed by the US, hit a record $124 billion last year. Labor groups contend that imbalance has played a major role in the loss of 3 million U.S. manufacturing jobs since mid-2000. But the Chinese customs figures show China's trade surplus with the US is much smaller than what the US has claimed to be.

In a recent report about countries that have erected the most trade barriers to American exports, the administration devoted 39 pages to detailing what it contended were China's unfair trade practices.

That report reviewed efforts the administration has made to get China to live up to commitments it made to lower trade barriers when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Zoellick announced the new USTR office will be headed by Charles Freeman, who has been handling China issues as a deputy assistant U.S. trade representative.

Zoellick said Freeman had played a major role in conducting the country's trade policies with China during its first two years of WTO membership.

"As our trade relationship with China grows, Charles will lead USTR's effort to make sure the United States has fair and open access to China's markets," Zoellick said in a statement.

The China office will be responsible for trade issues with the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. The office is also in charge of trade affairs with Mongolia.

As part of the reorganization, Zoellick said that Wendy Cutler, an assistant U.S. trade representative, will head a new office overseeing trade relations with Japan and South Korea.

In addition, Zoellick created new positions for an assistant U.S. trade representative for pharmaceutical policy, to be filled by Ralph Ives, and an assistant USTR for trade capacity building to help developing countries, which will be filled by Mary Ryckman.

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