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US Senator: Trade Advances Amid Problems

United States Senator Max Baucus of Montana yesterday positively commented on China's performance on its commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) while noting challenges lie ahead for Sino-US trade relations with new trade tensions simmering.

"Although much remains to be done, much progress has been made," the top Democrat on the US Senate Finance Committee said. The committee has jurisdiction over international trade issues in the senate.

By and large, the US Government and the American business community realize how much China has already accomplished, Baucus said. The growing US investment in China is a validation of his country's efforts in the past two years, he said in a speech yesterday during his visit to East China's Shanghai.

Baucus is leading a trade mission, mainly composed of business representatives from his home state. They have been visiting Asia since March 13 in a effort to open more markets to American products and establish more business connections that will help create US-based jobs.

Sources within the delegation revealed that it has been assured that China will purchase a significant amount of wheat from the largely rural state this year.

This is the Montana trade commission's first visit to Shanghai, officials said, and the state is also seeking business opportunities in transportation and telecommunications sectors, especially in the prospering East China area.

Baucus also highlighted the issues of the re-valuation of China's currency and intellectual property rights as key areas of US concern.

Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai told Baucus on Tuesday in Beijing that China is willing to further expand US trade and welcomes US enterprises to participate in Chinese markets.

On the US trade deficit with China, Bo said China has noticed the US concerns and has adopted a series of measures to resolve the problem.

The senator also expressed his concerns about China's value-added taxes on semiconductor sales and market access issues raised by US procurement laws.

The United States has begun action at the World Trade Organization challenging Chinese tax policies that Washington believes are an unfair barrier to semiconductor imports, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said Thursday.

The action against China on semiconductors is the first case brought by any country against Beijing since it joined the WTO.

(China Daily March 19, 2004)

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