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Washington Outlook Archive

US-China Dialogue Stresses Cooperation

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The first cabinet-level US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue hosted by the Obama administration addressed a wide range of issues and stressed the importance of cooperation in order to overcome economic problems in both countries and the world at large.

While these periodic conferences generally are long on rhetoric and short on action, a joint statement said the two parties had a "candid and in-depth exchange of views" that will lead to an understanding of strategic, long-term issues, and laid the groundwork to reduce differences and promote a "positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship."

China's huge trade imbalance with the United States remains one of top issues on the agendas of both countries. At the conclusion of the meeting, US Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geitner, who chaired the US delegation, said, "We reaffirmed our commitment to open and rules-based trade and investment, and we renewed our commitment to avoid protectionist measures and to bring about a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of trade liberalizations negotiations."

While the talks did not produce much in terms of specific commitments, the Chinese have said they intend to continue moving away from the export-dominated trade policies that have contributed to the trade deficit and place more emphasis on domestic consumption. The US government's statement did not address allegations of Chinese currency manipulation or other illegal trade practices, which domestic manufacturers see as major contributors to the trade imbalance.

A Treasury Department statement said a Chinese economy that is powered less by exports and more by domestic demand growth and greater household consumption will contribute to "stronger more sustainable and more balanced global economic growth."

The two days of meetings did produce a memorandum of understanding calling on both countries to enhance cooperation on climate change. The memorandum calls for an ongoing dialogue dealing with such things as a technology exchange, cooperation on specific projects and efforts to promote a transition to low-carbon energy consumption by industries.

Participants said the meetings laid the groundwork for a visit by President Barack Obama to China later this year.

August 4, 2009

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