U.S., China don’t get much closer on trade issues

John Dimsdale May 24, 2007
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U.S., China don’t get much closer on trade issues

John Dimsdale May 24, 2007
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KAI RYSSDAL: Moving now to international trade, two days of cabinet-level talks with China have come to a close. A mostly unremarkable close at that.

The list of accomplishments is short. More passenger flights between the two countries, better cooperation on food safety and the environment. No breakthroughs, though, on the big-ticket items, from the U.S. perspective anyway — like cracking down on piracy or increasing the value of China’s currency.

It’s no coincidence, then, that Marketplace’s John Dimsdale reports congressional calls for sanctions just got louder.


JOHN DIMSDALE: Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina plan to revive their bill to slap across-the-board sanctions on Chinese imports.

Senator Graham says the lack of progress from this week’s talks makes it time for Congress to act.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: The Chinese missed a great opportunity to help relieve some of the pressure. As a matter of fact, they’ve reinforced the need for pressure.

Asked about the future of trade with China, President George Bush said the U.S. is watching carefully to see if Beijing will appreciate the country’s currency.

GEORGE W. BUSH: And that’s all in the context of making it clear to China that we value our relationship, but the $233 billion trade deficit must be addressed.

U.S. retailers and bigger companies that benefit from cheap Chinese imports worry sanctions would spark a debilitating trade war. But smaller companies say they’re getting clobbered.

Bill Hawkins, at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, represents them. He says they’ve given up on the Bush administration’s trade negotiators — led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

BILL HAWKINS: Henry Paulson was, of course, CEO of Goldman Sachs, which was a very active investment bank in China. Sorta get the impression that he was taking the pose of being almost a neutral referee between the United States and China, trying to keep things smooth so that his business partnerships could continue.

Anticipating a White House veto of Chinese trade sanctions, congressional sponsors now say they’re confident they have veto-proof majorities.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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