US rejects charge of putting up trade walls

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A senior US official on Saturday rejected charges that the country was protectionist on matters relating to trade, saying instead that Beijing and Washington were working together to help the global economy recover.

Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats made the remarks on the same day that the United States set final anti-dumping duties ranging from 30 percent to 99 percent on more than $1 billion worth of China-made steel pipe imports. "When you look at the mechanism of trade, I don't see protectionism. There are some trade frictions, but it involves very few products, compared to the huge volume of trade. Any measures that have been taken are a very small part compared to the overall volume of trade," Hormats told China Daily.

Last year, trade disputes between the two powers escalated after the US slapped a series of anti-dumping duties on Chinese products.

Hormats is the first incumbent senior US official to take part in the Boao Forum and his participation comes at a time when the two countries are making efforts to patch frayed ties. "One reason I came here for this meeting is to underscore how strongly committed we are to a close and constructive economic and political relationship with China," he said.

China and the United States have argued over topics including Taiwan, Tibet and trade. However, despite these public squabbles, neither country can disregard the other.

Beijing needs Washington to have a strong economy to feed its growth while Washington wants Beijing to support its positions on international affairs such as to back fresh sanctions against Iran. A recent flurry of diplomatic efforts has brought the two powers back on track.

"Both countries stimulated their growth, and therefore, are contributing to the global economic recovery, and they are cooperating very nicely under G20. I think there is a lot of positive cooperation between the two sides," Hormats said.

Referring to the Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue to be held in the Chinese capital in May, Hormats said both sides were just beginning to chalk out the agenda. "There is a lot of work to do. There are many issues, but there is also a very positive environment to resolve those issues," he said.

Unlike other US officials, Hormats, who will be one of the key officials representing the US side in the China-US Strategic Dialogue, refused to talk about the currency issue.

Instead, he said that the US, being a leading economy, should be both a leader and a listener.

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