‘China can help US fight protectionism’

Beijing, March 29:

US needs China’s help to fight rising protectionism in Washington that could seriously harm both countries’ interests, US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on Wednesday.

“It is important for our colleagues in China to recognize that the voices in the US calling for protectionist policies are real,” Gutierrez told a US business forum in Beijing. “We know that engagement is the right policy but if we can’t point to clear results in China.”

Gutierrez was speaking on the final day of a four-day visit to China to lobby Beijing to further open its markets, better protect intellectual property rights and accelerate currency reforms.

The visit came as two US senators said Tuesday they were postponing for six months a vote on their bill that would impose 27.5 per cent tariffs on all Chinese goods unless China moved aggressively to appreciate its currency.

Gutierrez welcomed the delay, saying trade issues should be tackled constructively and through dialogue. “I’m not concerned that by delaying legislation, that takes pressure off China. In a mature relationship, I don’t believe that China is a partner that can only be managed through pressure,” Gutierrez told reporters. However, Gutierrez said the protectionist threat still loomed and China needed to take concrete action to address US concerns to avoid harm to both countries.

“Clearly protectionism sentiment in the United States and sentiment backed up by action and legislation that moves China’s number one customer to a protectionist stance would be very bad for China and the United States.” He said China understands this but still had “a long way to go” in resolving trade problems.

These include the huge US trade deficit with China, non-tariff trade barriers that protect Chinese industries and disadvantage US companies, and insufficient protection of intellectual property rights, Gutierrez said.