Expanding trade relations
Updated: 2012-12-21 07:05
By Huo Jianguo (China Daily)
China and the US should advance economic cooperation, reduce protectionism and expand exchanges in more fields
The fact that Vice-Premier Wang Qishan co-chaired the 23rd Session of the China-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade with Acting US Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Tuesday and Wednesday indicates the importance attached by the Chinese government to China-US economic and trade relations, and also highlights the important role of the commission in promoting bilateral economic and trade cooperation and stabilizing overall China-US relations.
Established in 1983, the commission is the oldest and highest-level government-to-government consultative mechanism for resolving specific trade concerns and pursuing bilateral commercial opportunities. It has played a crucial role in expanding and deepening bilateral economic and trade cooperation and maintaining healthy economic and trade relations between China and the United States.
Of course, we cannot expect to solve all problems regarding China-US economic and trade relations through one platform or meeting, but at least the existence of such a mechanism shows that bilateral economic and trade relations are controllable.
In addition, it has played an irreplaceable role in the establishment and consolidation of China-US mutual trust and the expansion of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
China pays close attention to Chinese enterprises' investment in the US, US controls on exports of high-tech products to China, trade remedy investigations and intellectual property disputes, while the US focuses on issues concerning the promotion of exports to China, intellectual property rights protection, open markets, industrial policies and agricultural product exports to China.
Though the priorities of the two sides are not completely the same, both sides held consultations at recent sessions of the commission on a wide range of issues and reached important consensus on a number of issues, such as intellectual property rights, energy, the environment and opposing trade protectionism.
The holding of this year's high-level trade talks just after China's leadership transition and the US presidential election has important meaning in serving as a link between the past and the future.
Previously, some people in the US expressed concern over the future of China's economic environment. Vice-Premier Wang's first foreign visit since the 18th Party Congress served to highlight the key role of China's opening-up policy as well as to enhance trust and clear up doubts over economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
The 18th Party Congress report clearly stated that "in response to new developments in economic globalization, we must implement a more proactive opening-up strategy and improve the open economy so that it promotes mutual benefit and is diversified, balanced, secure and efficient".
China cannot promote all-around improvements to its open economy without cooperation with the US, and the US also needs to remain open to Chinese investment in order to achieve the goal of boosting employment and promoting economic growth. Under the new circumstances, it is more and more pressing for the two sides to strengthen economic and trade cooperation.
China and the US are currently each other's second-largest trade partner. China is the biggest holder of US Treasuries. The two are economically interdependent with highly intertwined interests.
The US will continue to be China's largest single export market, and China is the most important external factor in the US' new economic strategy highlighting the role of exports in boosting its domestic economy.
China-US economic and trade relations play an active, positive role in the overall bilateral relationship and will remain stable on the whole in the future. At the same time with the expansion of the total trade volume, trade disputes will become common in bilateral economic and trade relations.
In dealing with these disputes, the US side should strictly abide by the rules of the WTO and adopt technical means, rather than politicize trade issues for domestic political purposes.
Both sides should seek common ground while dealing with differences through consultation and cooperation, expand consensus, promote cooperation, and take a constructive attitude toward resolving their differences.
Frankly speaking, mutual benefit is the most important characteristic of China-US economic cooperation.
Both sides should strive to solve problems in development and actively seek and expand common interests. China and the US are in different stages of economic development, and are highly complementary in terms of natural resources, human resources, markets, capital and technology.
The stable and healthy development of China-US economic relations is in line with the long-term interests of both countries.
Meanwhile, the economic models of both countries are in a period of transformation. The financial crisis has made the US re-examine the role of exports in economic growth. China's gradual transition to economic growth driven by domestic demand will benefit the US, and also can help improve the imbalanced trade pattern.
Conducting benign cooperation, seizing strategic opportunities to deepen economic and trade cooperation, and promoting the sustained and healthy development of mutually beneficial and win-win economic and trade relations is good for both economic growth and restructuring.
It is precisely because of the great importance of China-US economic and trade relations to each other, and also due to the existence of various consultative mechanisms, including the commission, that China-US economic relations have broad development prospects with deepened interdependency. In addition to trade, China-US cooperation in various fields, such as agriculture, energy, science and technology, education, environment, tourism and finance, will also continue to create more benefits for the two peoples.
Meanwhile, as the world's two largest economies and two most important engines of global economic growth, the significance of China-US economic relations has gone far beyond the bilateral scope. Meanwhile, there are huge opportunities for bilateral cooperation in fields besides economic and trade relations, such as stabilizing the international economic order, promoting world economic recovery, improving international governance, upholding the multilateral trading system, promoting economic restructuring, deepening cooperation in science and technology, developing clean energy industries, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Working together to deal with these global challenges is not only in line with the common interests of the two countries, but also has great significance for the stable development of the global economy.
The author is president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.
(China Daily 12/21/2012 page8)