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Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 10 News List

US trade chief announces China trip

STRENGTHENING RELATIONS Susan Schwab hopes to discuss Beijing's role in reviving WTO talks and hailed China's attempts to tackle copyright and patent theft

AP , KUALA LUMPUR

US trade chief Susan Schwab says she will make a three-day visit to China starting on Sunday to further strengthen bilateral economic relations in efforts to help cut the US' record trade deficit, and push the Asian nation to curb intellectual property thefts.

Schwab said late on Wednesday that during a meeting with Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai (薄熙來) in Beijing she also hopes to discuss China's role in helping to restart stalled WTO talks.

"China is likely to be a major beneficiary of a successful Doha round and is certain to a major loser if the Doha round fails. We have a shared interest in seeing a successful Doha round," she said on the sidelines of meetings with Southeast Asian trade ministers.

WTO

The 149-nation WTO suspended negotiations in the global trade liberalization talks last month, largely over differences on farm tariffs and subsidies.

Schwab hailed initial efforts by the Chinese to crack down on the theft of US copyrights and patents, including a commitment to require that all personal computers sold in China have factory-installed operating programs as a way of reducing the pirating of US computer software.

US companies claim that intellectual property thefts in China are costing them billions of dollars in lost sales annually.

"That is an important step in the right direction," she said. "We still have some issues that still need to be addressed. Some related to China's commitment under the WTO, obligations that have not been fulfilled. Issues related to intellectual property rights that are still quite problematic. Issues related to auto parts."

Schwab declined to say if she will push China to allow the yuan to rise in value against the dollar as a way of lowering the US trade deficit but said that as bilateral trade has grown, China clearly has benefited.

"US exports to China have gone up 20 percent or more per year for the last several years. Obviously China's exports to US have gone up rapidly as well," she said.

`Good news'

"Clearly this is a trading relationship that benefits the Chinese. So there is some good news in terms of the strength of the bilateral trade relationship and we'll talk about that," Schwab said.

The US trade deficit with China soared to US$202 billion last year, the biggest imbalance ever with a single country.

Some US manufacturers contend China is unfairly depressing the value of the yuan by as much as 40 percent to make their goods cheaper and more competitive against US products.

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