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Sino-US trade gap is longstanding issue
Updated: 2005-11-15 20:29

A senior aide to President George W. Bush on Monday played down expectations of a major breakthrough on the huge U.S. trade deficit with China.

"This is going to be an issue, you know, it's a longstanding issue that we've had with China," White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters aboard Air Force One as Bush was en route to Asia for a four-nation tour that will include a visit to Beijing on Saturday.

"It's going to be an issue during this trip, it's going to be an issue after this trip. I don't think you're going to see, you know, headline breakers," he said. "This is the kind of issue that you have to work with these countries on a sustained basis."

Bush is due to arrive in Kyoto, Japan, on Tuesday evening for the start of a tour that will take him to Pusan, South Korea, for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and later to China and Mongolia.

Bush plans to press Chinese President Hu Jintao to take further steps toward currency flexibility and to do more to open its markets to U.S. goods. He told Asian journalists last week that he wanted Beijing to do more to let market forces drive the yuan -- which Washington believes is undervalued and poses a hindrance to U.S. exports to China -- and called the trade imbalance between the two countries bothersome.

Bush is under pressure at home to take a tough line with Hu on trade issues amid growing concerns at home among politicians, manufacturers and workers about the U.S. trade deficit with China.

A report last week showed the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world surged to a record monthly high of $66.1 billion in September amid a flood of imports from China.

Some traders on foreign exchange markets have speculated that China might allow the yuan to appreciate more in the period surrounding Bush's visit.

Speaking generally about Bush's trip to Asia, Hadley said, "This is not a trip where the president has to come with a deliverable or an initiative."

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