US to press China to follow WTO line

Beijing, February 27:

A senior US trade delegate was due to arrive in Beijing today to press China on its ‘responsibilities’ under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a US embassy official said.

James Mendenhall, general counsel for the US trade representative’s office, was set to arrive in Beijing amid expectations he would particularly urge China to crack down harder on piracy and counterfeiting. “They are going to be talking about China’s new WTO responsibilities,” the US embassy official said, “They’re going to be talking about intellectual property rights, and they are going to be talking about auto parts.” The official said Mendenhall’s interlocutors during the stay, which ends Saturday, would come mainly from the Chinese commerce ministry.

Chinese vice-commerce minister Wei Jianguo said the two sides would exchange views on a “wide range of issues of common concern,” according to Xinhua news agency.

“Both China and the United States attach great importance to the trade talks in Beijing, and hope that consensus will be reached on some issues,” he said.

Prior to his departure from the US, Mendenhall told reporters he would focus on China’s disregard for intellectual property (IP) rights. “We have pressed the Chinese hard on the IP front using a variety of tools. We have not seen the progress we would like to see,” he said, “And we are running out of options.” He said the use of a formal WTO complaint “is on the table, but we’re not at the retaliation stage yet.” In a move that might be timed to coincide with Mendenhall’s visit, the commerce ministry said today China was willing to make efforts to narrow its huge trade surplus with the US.

Ministry spokesman Chong Quan said in a statement on the ministry’s website the complementary nature of the US and Chinese economies formed the basis for the sustained development of economic and trade relations. The US trade deficit with China hit $201.6 billion in 2005, up by 24.5 per cent from a year earlier, according to official US figures.

Boom in China

SHANGHAI: Growth in China’s booming economy is expected to power ahead in the first quarter, with GDP rising by 9.6 per cent from a year ago. China’s economy entered a period of stable growth and the country’s economy shows a good developmental trend of high growth and low inflation. While China’s economy expanded by 9.9 per cent in 2005 to become the world’s fourth biggest, the centre said first quarter inflation would remain tame at 2.2 per cent, slightly higher than the 1.8 per cent growth in 2005. — AFP