China will endeavor to balance trade with the United States, said Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai Monday in Beijing, denying that China was pursuing a trade deficit.
Bo made the remarks in talks with visiting US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who is heading a US delegation, including 25 entrepreneurs.
Gutierrez's visit comes amid growing US concern about trade deficit with China. China's trade surplus with the United States grew to US$102.2 billion in the first nine months this year.
Bo said since China had a large foreign exchange reserve, it was not in its interests to have too high a trade surplus with the United States.
He said US exports to China were increasing rapidly, especially the agricultural products, and China was expected to become the third largest export market of the United States in 2007.
In some areas, such as the service and cultural industries, the United States had obvious advantages over China and a trade surplus. The branches or joint ventures of US companies in China also contributed to the deficit and benefited from it.
In general, Sino-US trade was relatively balanced, Bo said.
Gutierrez said the Sino-US trade relationship was at a turning point. The deficit remained a very important issue between the two countries, but reducing it by reducing imports from China was not the "correct strategy". The US should strengthen exports to China.
He said he hoped the two sides could actively take measures to solve the problem.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) protection was another important agenda of the meeting between the two ministers.
Gutierrez spoke highly of the efforts and achievements made by China in IPR protection, but he hoped to see more progress in this field.
Bo said strengthening IPR protection was in China's interests, and the two sides had cooperated well. China hoped to have more information exchanges and mutual understanding with the US side in this field.
Bo said 50 centers had been established across China with national financial support to receive information about IPR infringements. The courts were also accepting and handling more such cases.
Gutierrez is also scheduled to attend a roundtable on IPR protection with officials and businessmen from the two countries.
During the meeting, the two officials exchanged views on other issues of common concern, including US beef exports to China, US restrictions on high-technology exports to China, China's market economy status and the promotion of US tourism in China.
Bo said he hoped the US side would release restrictions on high-tech exports to China, a common concern of companies from both sides. He also hoped the US side would make substantial efforts with regard to the recognition of the market economy status of China.
Gutierrez will stay in Beijing for two days before leaving for Shanghai on Wednesday. He is also scheduled to meet with Vice Premier Wu Yi and Premier Wen Jiabao, and give a press briefing. In Shanghai, Gutierrez and his business delegation will continue with specific meetings.
Analysts said Gutierrez's visit was partly aimed at expanding US exports to China. The 25 business delegates are all leaders of big firms, including companies already operating in China such as Lucent Technologies and McGraw-Hill, and newcomers like Westinghouse and America's second-largest insurance company Aon Group.
The two officials talked with the delegates after the meeting. The entrepreneurs told Bo their respective businesses, progress in Chinese market and appealed to the Chinese government to improve the investment environment.
The transparency of the market, IPR protection, and government services to the companies remained their major concerns.
Bo said the Ministry of Commerce had noted the concerns, and would act on them to push forward Sino-US trade relations.
He invited the delegates to expand cooperation with China, especially in areas including solar and nuclear energy, environmental protection, medical services and the retail sector, as cooperation was conducive to the social and economic development of China.
He said China still offered big opportunities to the financial and communication sectors.
(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2006)