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Stronger Sino-US trade ties urged
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Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming has called for stronger economic ties between China and the United States.

"Economic links have always been an important basis for the China-US relationship, and the growth in trade between the two countries has been robust since the establishment of normal diplomatic relations," Chen wrote in an article published in The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Currently, China and the US are each other's second-largest trading partner with the volume of the two-way trade in goods exceeding US$300 billion.

But the commercial ties between the two nations have been affected by the global financial crisis.

Chinese statistics show bilateral trade dropped 6.8 percent, and US investment in China slumped 19.4 percent, on a year-on-year basis in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year, Chen wrote.

He was scheduled to meet with his US counterpart on Monday to discuss bilateral trade and investment measures.

"History tells us that the more serious a crisis becomes, the more committed we must be to openness and cooperation," Chen wrote. "Regrettably, however, trade measures by the US against China are on the rise."

Recently, American industries have petitioned the US government for antidumping investigations, and for investigations under the World Trade Organization's "special safeguard provision," which could restrict imports of Chinese products, he said.

"This will seriously test China-US economic and trade relations," he added.

The Chinese commerce minister noted that the need to foster positive Sino-US ties has never been greater.

He also called on both sides to step up cooperation in trade and investment issues, and explore and establish new possibilities for cooperation in such areas as agriculture, new and high technology, finance, energy and the environment.

"Dialogue and communication also need to be intensified concerning multilateral and regional trade and economic affairs," he said.

To that end, Chen put forth four proposals:

-- To seize the opportunity for cooperation, and work together to tackle the crisis;

-- To mutually open markets to expand trade and investment;

-- To strengthen bilateral dialogue and resolve differences properly;

-- To safeguard the environment for trade and advance the Doha Round.

Chen also said now it's no time for protectionism.

The US and China, as the largest and the third-largest trading countries in the world respectively, should take the lead in following up the consensus reached at the G20 Summit in London and refrain from formulating any new trade protection policies before the end of 2010, he wrote.

"A positive, cooperative and comprehensive Sino-American relationship will surely bring new prosperity and development to both economies," he added.

In his article, he also expressed hope and confidence that bilateral trade would rise to a new high and exceed US$500 billion in the next five years, growing in a more balanced way.

(Xinhua News Agency April 28, 2009)

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