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US, China talk trade despite tensions (AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top US and Chinese officials opened trade talks here Tuesday amid persistent tensions between the world’s two largest economies over currency issues and allegations of protectionism.

US officials were to likely to again hammer home their message that China must do more to open its doors to American exports as the United States frets over the slow pace of economic growth.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, heading up a 100-strong delegation, met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and was also to hold talks with US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing hoped the “two sides will have an exchange of views on trade, investment, agriculture products quarantine, technological standards, intellectual property rights and bilateral cooperation in other areas in an in-depth manner.”

But the disparate economic view from the offices of power in Washington and Beijing has fueled US anger at perceived Chinese protectionism.

Washington has charged that Beijing is deliberately keeping the yuan weak to aid Chinese manufacturers.

“As for trade differences between China and the US, we always hold that the two should solve relevant issues though candid dialogue and through consultations through normal channels,” Jiang added.

The talks come a day after a World Trade Organization ruling against China in a tire dispute, and amid congressional moves to sanction Beijing.

Two US senators on Monday sought to introduce legislation targeting China over alleged currency manipulation to a bill championed by President Barack Obama to avert a massive New Year’s tax increase.

Republican Olympia Snowe and Democrat Sherrod Brown said they had introduced the “Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act” as an amendment to the tax measure.

The act would direct the US Commerce Department to treat deliberate currency undervaluation as a forbidden export subsidy, paving the way to countervailing duties on exports from the offending country.

Although the effort was not expected to succeed it was a poignant symbol of congressional anger.

Meanwhile, the WTO on Monday rejected China’s complaint against punitive US tariffs on Chinese tires, a landmark ruling on safeguards invoked by Washington against disruptive imports from the Asian giant.

The US “did not fail to comply with its obligations,” the ruling by the World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel said.

Washington welcomed the ruling as a vindication of its policies, but scores of other disputes are still being considered by the WTO.

But Beijing said Tuesday it regretted the WTO’s decision and it would appeal “at an appropriate time” arguing that the ruling could have a potentially negative impact.

Despite a recent surge in US exports there is still a feeling in Washington that China has not done enough to rebalance global trade.

The US trade deficit narrowed sharply in October as exports surged on the back of a weaker dollar and the politically sensitive gap with China shrank 8.3 percent, to 25.5 billion dollars.

A succession of global economic meetings, from gatherings of the International Monetary Fund to the G20 have been dominated by trade tensions between the United States and China.

With little concrete action toward resolving the disputes, they threaten to engulf a visit by President Hu Jintao to Washington in January seen by many as an important deadline for China to let the value of the yuan increase.

The breaking news, US, China talk trade despite tensions
(AFP)
citation from US Economy

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