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China, US Vow to Ease Trade Tensions
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China and the US yesterday pledged to work toward easing bilateral trade tensions and create a "positive atmosphere" for the upcoming meeting between the two countries' presidents next month.


"There is great potential for the development of Sino-US trade, which is in line with the interests of the two countries and their people," Vice Premier Wu Yi told visiting US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Bilateral trade volume hit US$212 billion last year.


During nearly two hours of talks with Gutierrez, Wu expressed hope that the commerce ministries of the two countries work together to ensure the success of the next Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.


"Only this way can we promote sound and stable growth of Sino-US trade and create a positive atmosphere for President Hu Jintao's visit to the US," she said while meeting Gutierrez at the Zhongnanhai compound, the central government headquarters.


Wu described the joint commission, a 22-year-old body created to resolve Sino-US trade disputes, as an important mechanism for the promotion of bilateral trade and economic cooperation.


The joint commission is scheduled to hold its 17th meeting on April 11 in the US on the eve of summit talks between Hu and US President George W. Bush.


Gutierrez said the joint commission has proved to be successful and hoped that the two sides could reach a consensus on contentious issues during the meeting.


Wu explained China's efforts to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) and its stance on the trade imbalance, saying the country would continue to strive to protect IPRs and reduce the US trade deficit by increasing imports from the country.


Gutierrez appreciated China's efforts in IPR protection and hoped it would continue such efforts.


He also met Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday.


The US commerce secretary's second trip to China comes at a time when the two trade partners are embroiled in a number of trade disputes ranging from the trade deficit and the currency exchange-rate regime to IPR protection.


As a result of soaring bilateral trade, China has become the fourth-largest export market and the third-largest trade partner of the US.


Washington says its trade deficit with China reached US$202 billion last year, a record with any country, while China which uses a different method of calculation puts the figure at US$114 billion.


On Friday, the US Senate could vote on a proposed bill to impose 27.5 percent tariffs on Chinese goods unless Beijing raises the exchange rate of its currency, which Washington says is undervalued and gives Chinese exporters an unfair trade advantage.


Also yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said at a news briefing that trade frictions or differences should be "properly resolved through consultations" and called on the US side not to "magnify, overstate or even politicize those issues."


Gutierrez held two hours of talks with Commerce Minister Bo Xilai yesterday morning, focusing on a wide range of issues including the trade deficit, market access, software copyrights, agricultural products and telecommunications.


Bo said it is "not unusual" for the two nations to encounter some problems in their trade relations. "We have been maintaining that we should push forward bilateral trade ties through friendly consultations and in line with the principles of mutual benefit and reciprocity," Bo told reporters.


(China Daily March 29, 2006)

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