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Washington Outlook Archive

Commerce Officials Say Textile Issues Are Negotiable

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

US Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez told a group of Chinese and American businessmen in Beijing that the US government is willing to seek a negotiated settlement of textile trade issues in order to avoid a trade war and what he sees as a push for protectionism by some interests in the United States. Speaking at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, Gutierrez discussed two issues of importance to US textile manufacturers protection of intellectual property rights and the clash over the use of safeguards to impose new quotas on Chinese textile and apparel imports.He came down hard on the issue of protection of patents and trademarks, saying that the US has legal rights to protect intellectual property and those issues are not negotiable. He stated flatly that violations of trademarks and patents are criminal acts and offenders need to be prosecuted.

He took a more conciliatory line with the textile quota issues, saying that the United States and China have differences of opinion over safeguards. We have a dispute about textiles, and that is a very fair dispute, so we have something that can be negotiated, he said. He added the Bush administration is seeking mutually beneficial and enduring economic relations with China.

At a meeting in South Korea, Gutierrez said the use of safeguards to limit imports is entirely consistent with the rules of the World Trade Organization, which China agreed to as a condition of its admission to that group. Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, however, countered with a charge that the safeguards are protectionism that is not consistent with the principles of the WTO. Gutierrez appealed to the Chinese government to show progress toward resolving trade issues that have broiled over in the United States, warning that if nothing is done, that would empower those within the US political system who are pushing an American retreat from the global economy.He said US Trade Representative Rob Portman will be meeting with Chinese trade officials in an attempt to resolve trade issues and avert a trade war.

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

June 2005