Mon, Aug 28, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Schwab in Beijing to push trade talks


A US trade envoy arrived yesterday to press China for help in restarting WTO talks on liberalizing global trade after warning they could be stalled for years without a breakthrough soon.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab also planned to push Beijing for more action to cut its multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the US and fight product piracy.

The WTO suspended talks indefinitely last month after the US, the EU and other major traders failed to agree on a deal to lower barriers to farm commerce.

Schwab was due to meet with Commerce Minister Bo Xilai (薄熙來) and other Chinese trade officials.

"China is likely to be a major beneficiary of a successful Doha round and is certain to be a major loser if the Doha round fails. We have a shared interest in seeing a successful Doha round," Schwab said last week in Malaysia at a meeting of Southeast Asian trade ministers.

The process could become more complex next year, when US President George W. Bush's "fast track" authority to submit a trade deal to Congress for a yes-or-no vote without amendments runs out.

Schwab's trip also comes amid mounting US frustration over China's record-high trade surpluses and complaints that Beijing is failing to stop illegal copying of music, movies and other products.

The US trade deficit with China hit a record high US$202 billion last year, adding to strains with Washington. It is expected to exceed that this year.

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