US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez started a five-day visit to China today, in search of business opportunities and possible partnerships with Chinese companies.
Sources said the US trade chief will meet Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and Vice Premier Wu Yi, tackling burning issues such as trade imbalance and intellectual property rights (IPR).
Gutierrez is bringing to China a "high-powered mission" including representatives from 25 US firms from industries ranging from electronics to pharmaceuticals.
The mission will aim to help US firms expand their exports to China, in a bid to reduce the growing trade deficit. Its twin focus will be to assist both experienced exporters to crack the Chinese market and existing exporters to increase their level of trade.
"Huge opportunities exist in China, but so do some major challenges," Gutierrez said before the visit. "This mission is designed to help US companies identify the opportunities and address the challenges."
China's trade surplus with the US grew to US$102.2 billion in the first nine months this year, straining relations between China and its major trading partner.
"It is unrealistic to reverse the trend in the short term, so China's trade surplus with the US will continue to mount up," said Mei Xinyu, an expert with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce.
Mei denied that the size of the trade surplus showed the limited effects of China's trade policies. According to the five-year plan (2006-10) for commerce, China plans to reduce the trade surplus by increasing imports.
Some analysts see the cause of the imbalance as lying in China's high savings rates and the hegemonic position of the US dollar in the international currency market. Furthermore, they noted that the US export control policy against China on high-tech products largely restricts its export scale.
Reports say US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will lead a delegation to China in mid-December.
Paulson, who took over the position in July, visited China in September and is scheduled to return next month for the first round of talks set to shape the long-term economic relationship between the two countries.
(China Daily November 13, 2006)