High-ranking US and Chinese trade officials are meeting in Beijing this week for a periodic
dialogue designed to resolve international trade problems.
US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez are
leading a delegation to a meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). They are
delving into a variety of issues related to market access, trade disputes and the growing US/China
trade deficit, which is on track to set another annual record. Secretary of the Treasury Henry M.
Paulson will join the other two cabinet officials in a meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue,
which will probe additional issues. Paulson is the Bush administration’s point man on the Chinese
currency controversy, so that is likely to be on the agenda, although the Chinese show few signs of
giving ground toward letting its currency float.
As the sessions got underway, Schwab said: “The JCCT is a particularly important mechanism
for tackling some of the inevitable challenges and differences of our large and complex bilateral
trade relationship.” Saying that US farmers and manufacturers are exporting around the world at
record rates, Gutierrez said: “While US exports to China, our second largest trading partner, are
growing at a rate of almost 17 percent, significant trade barriers to the Chinese market remain.
The JCCT provides an important face-to-face platform to address concrete market access issues and
strike down these barriers to the fast-growing Chinese market.”
Economic issues are likely to be overshadowed by concerns over unsafe toys and food products,
which are causing tensions in both countries.
The meeting is the 18th plenary session of the JCCT, and while few, if any, specific
accomplishments ever come out of these meetings, they do provide a backdrop for discussions that
can lead to concrete results at a later date.
December 11, 2007