Bush encourages China to become ‘nation of consumers’

Hanoi, November 19:

US president George W Bush today encouraged China to become a ‘nation of consumers’ and buy more American manufactured and farm goods.

Bush, meeting with Chinese president Hu Jintao on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit, said Washington was pleased with a jump in US exports to China this year and with Beijing’s push to boost consumer demand among its citizens, who are among the most avid savers in the world.“I strongly support your vision of encouraging your country to become a nation of consumers and not savers,” Bush told Hu, according to a transcript of the meeting. He said that trend would benefit both US manufacturers and farmers.

“Obviously, with as much commerce between our countries as there is, there’s going to be trade difficulties,” Bush said. “But nevertheless, we both adopt a spirit of mutual respect and the desire to work through our problems for the common good of our peoples.” China’s trade surplus with the US is projected to jump by 12 per cent to $228 billion this year.

Bush faces growing pressure to counter that trend following the opposition Democratic Party’s capture of Congress in elections earlier this month. US officials and some businesses have taken aim at China’s controls on its currency, saying its policies keep the yuan’s value artificially low, giving Chinese exporters an unfair advantage. The two leaders did not discuss currency issues during their meeting Sunday, a Chinese official said.

“The two presidents are happy with the development of Sino-US trade relations. They’re glad to see trade relations are strong and they want to make them stronger,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. China has acknowledged a need to boost

domestic consumer spending to reduce its growing reliance on exports to fuel growth.

The country’s communist leaders have boosted subsidies to farmers and increased spending on education, hea-lth and social services to help reduce financial burdens for ordinary families — aiming to enable them to save less and spend more.

China is America’s fourth-largest export market and one of the fastest growing. US exports to China rose by 20.5 per cent last year to $41.8 billion. This year, exports have been running 35.7 per cent above last year’s pace.

“Actually, our trade has been expanding very rapidly,” Hu told Bush.

Fight against money laundering

MELBOURNE: The G20 economies on Sunday upheld a vow to fight terrorist financing and expressed concern about surging demand for energy resources and its potential impact on the global economy. A final communique released at the end of two-day long closed-door meetings of finance ministers and central bankers from 20 of the world’s top economies, the officials reaffirmed their commitment “to take action against money laundering and terrorist and illicit financing.” — AP