US President George W. Bush said late on Tuesday that he would use upcoming talks in Asia to press for the dismantling of trade barriers and to call on China to reform its currency and copyright protection regimes.
Bush said that during his tour of Japan, South Korea and China starting next week, he would push for progress in the WTO's stalled Doha round of talks ahead of a crucial WTO meeting in Hong Kong next month.
"And so this will be a good opportunity to explain to our partners that a successful round in Doha will be good for our respective countries, our workers, our farmers, our business people," he told reporters from the three countries in a roundtable interview.
The trip will be anchored on the Nov. 18-19 APEC forum summit in the South Korean city of Busan, where Bush hopes to make progress on lowering trade barriers.
The president's tour will start in Japan, where he will arrive on Nov. 15 for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a day later.
Bush then heads to Busan for the gathering of the 21 APEC members, which is expected to issue a statement aimed at pushing forward the floundering Doha trade liberalization agenda.
After the APEC summit, Bush heads to Beijing on Nov. 19 to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao (
Bush said his personal relationship with Hu was "very good", but ascribed only a "mixed" rating to US-China economic relations.
"On the one hand, we have got increasing trade and dialogue and cooperation. On the other hand, there is still work to be done on intellectual property rights, for example, or currency, or market access," he said.
In advance of Bush's trip, the US and Chinese governments cleared one major trade hurdle in forging an agreement on Tuesday to regulate rocketing levels of Chinese textile exports.
But there is still mounting sentiment in the US Congress, and in corporate America at large, for the Bush administration to get tougher with China on the trade front.
Bush said he would relay to Hu that "the trade balance between China and the US is bothersome to people here, and that we've got to address the trade balance".
"And one way to do so is for there to be market access for US products," he said.
Bush said that he welcomed Hu's pledges to clamp down on abuse of intellectual property rights in China.
"People really don't want to do business in a country if they think their ... patents will be copied," Bush said.
"And this is not just an issue between the United States and China. It's really an issue that when China cracks down and enforces intellectual property rights laws, that it will be good for China's standing in the world," Bush said.
Bush said he would also discuss methods that the US and China -- the world's two biggest energy consumers -- can take together with South Korea and Japan to reduce each country's reliance on fossil fuels.
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