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PREVIEW / Oct. 27 -- Nov. 2

Commerce Secretary to Put Pressure on China

October 27, 2003|From Reuters

U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans plans to put pressure on China this week for fairer trade and to get the nation to move toward a market economy, the U.S. Commerce Department said Sunday. However, he is unlikely to directly refer to the yuan currency.

"China has lifted millions of people from poverty by taking important steps toward capitalism, but they have a long way to go," Evans said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

"China's current trade practices are exploiting our open markets and are creating an unfair advantage that is undercutting American workers.... China's economic success depends on free and fair trade with the U.S."

Evans, who arrived in China on Sunday for an eight-day trip, would discuss concerns of U.S. manufacturers that range from piracy of intellectual property rights to trade barriers and capital markets "largely insulated" from free-market pressures, the statement said.

U.S. manufacturers complain China's practice of pegging the yuan currency at roughly 8.28 to the dollar gives it an unfair trade advantage by depressing the price of its exports.

The currency issue has become a hot political topic heading into next year's U.S. presidential election, with lawmakers in both parties pushing the White House to take action.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow visited Beijing in September, pressing home the message, but China has shrugged off calls for a yuan revaluation and many economists have dismissed the argument that China is to blame for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs as specious.

Evans said on Thursday that he would not directly raise the currency issue but would press Chinese leaders to "to reduce the role of their government in micromanaging their economy."

Evans also said he would stress that China needs to honor the commitments it made to open its market to more imports when it joined the World Trade Organization in December of 2001.

"We don't mind opening our market to them, but it's a two-way street," he said.

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