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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Chinese President's Visit Sheds Little Light On Trade Issues

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

President George W. Bush’s visit with Chinese President Hu Jintao last week shed little light on how the two countries will address international trade issues, leaving textiles and other manufacturers in the dark as to the future of trade between the two countries. While addressing issues such as the huge US trade deficit with China, protection of intellectual property rights and currency reform, for the most part, the two presidents spoke in generalities.

As the talks got underway, the Washington-based American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), which includes a number of textile manufacturers, called on President Bush to use access to the US market as leverage to bring about reform in what the coalition says are China’s “ predatory trade practices.” AMTAC Executive Director Auggie Tantillo said such an action is “ [t]he only way for the United States to dig itself out of this trade deficit hole ….”

Following the meeting, President Hu said: “We understand the American concerns over the trade imbalances, the protection of intellectual property rights and market access. We have taken measures, and we will continue to take steps to properly resolve the issues.” Hu said his country already has taken actions to reform the Chinese currency exchange rate problem, and it will continue to make efforts to improve the situation. The Washington-based China Currency Coalition, which comprises agriculture, labor and manufacturing interests, including textiles, has described those actions as “woefully inadequate.”

Responding to President Hu’s statement, President Bush said he was “heartened” by his comments, adding that the Chinese trade deficit with the United States is “unsustainable.” He said he and the Chinese president both take the currency issue seriously and will continue to work on it.

In its statement prior to the opening of the talks, AMTAC said the United States over the past 15 years has accumulated a trade deficit of $1.1 trillion with China, and US consumers and industries now pay more than $8 to import goods manufactured in China for each dollar earned from exports to China.

April 25, 2006