China and the US yesterday started a new round of talks in Beijing, harboring hopes to find a comprehensive solution to settle the long drawn-out disputes in this round.
The Chinese delegation is headed by Lu Jianhua, director of the Foreign Trade Department under the Ministry of Commerce while David Spooner, special negotiator for textiles at the US Trade Representative's Office, leads the US side, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
The closed-door meeting, held in the main building of the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, is scheduled to end today. The two sides failed to reach any agreement in the last five rounds of talks. The most recent round was held in Washington from September 26-28.
Since global quotas were scrapped on January 1, the US has set limits on nine categories of textile products imported from China, including shirts, trousers, underwear and yarn.
Both Chinese and US industries have expectations that a deal could be signed in this round since differences have been narrowed in previous talks.
The talks are predicted to focus on the duration of the pact, product coverage, quota growth rate and the base figure for determining exports.
China wanted the resolution of the textile dispute between China and the EU in June to be a model for solving the Sino-US dispute.
China and the EU eased tensions when they agreed to limit the growth of 10 Chinese textile exports to the EU to 8.5-12.5 percent until the end of 2007.
As a threatening pose, Washington accepted a US industry request to consider quotas on another 13 types of Chinese textile exports, bringing the number that could be restricted to 27.
However, in a sign the two sides are edging closer to a pact, US Trade Representative Rob Portman was prepared if needed to fly to Beijing to sign a deal, industry sources quoted by Reuters said.
Another US senior official, Treasury Secretary John Snow was visiting Shanghai yesterday to urge the Chinese authorities to speed up reform of the country's financial market.
"It's clear the potential of the financial sector to play a larger role in the economy is enormous," Snow said when he visited the Shanghai Stock Exchange, adding that he would continue to press for more progress towards a more flexible, market-driven exchange rate.
Apart from the stock exchange, he visited a new office for foreign exchange trading in Shanghai. He also met financial market leaders based in the city as well as representatives of the American businesses operating in the region.
Commenting on the trade surplus between China and the US, Snow admitted that trade protectionism on the rise in the US would pose a serious problem to the US economy.
He will head to Beijing for the G20 meeting after a brief visit to the inland city of Chengdu in western China.
(China Daily October 13, 2005)