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Commerce Minister: China Not Pursuing Trade Deficit
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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 during talks with visiting US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who is heading a US delegation, including 25 entrepreneurs.

Gutierrez's visit comes against a backdrop of growing concern about the US trade deficit with China. The trade surplus reached US$102.2 billion in the first nine months of this year.

Bo said since China had a large foreign exchange reserve, it would not be in its interests to maintain a too high trade surplus with the United States.

He said US exports to China were increasing rapidly, especially in the agricultural sector, and that China was expected to become the US' third largest export market in 2007.

In some areas, such as the service and cultural industries, the United States had obvious advantages over China forming a trade surplus. The branches or joint ventures of US companies in China also contributed to the deficit and directly benefited from it.

In general, Sino-US trade was relatively balanced, Bo concluded.

Gutierrez said the Sino-US trade relationship was at a turning point. The deficit remained a crucial issue between the two countries, but reducing it by slowing imports from China was not the "correct strategy". Instead, the US should strengthen exports to China. He said he hoped the two sides could take active measures towards solving the problem.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) protection was another important agenda of the meeting between the two ministers.

Gutierrez spoke highly of China's efforts and achievements in IPR protection, but added 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 gain from more information exchanges and mutual understanding with the US in this field.

Bo said China had created 50 centers with national financial support to receive information about IPR infringements. Judicial developments have seen more court cases related to IPR.

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 discussed 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 end restrictions high-tech exports to China, a common concern to companies from both sides. He further hoped that the US would assist China to have its market economy status recognized.

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 address the press. 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 some 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 spoke with the delegates after the meeting. The entrepreneurs told Bo their respective businesses and their progress in Chinese market before appealing to the Chinese government to improve the nation's investment environment.

The delegates' major concerns rested on market transparency, IPR protection, and government services to the companies.

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 Chinese social and economic development.

He said China still offered big opportunities in the financial and communication sectors.

(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2006)

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