U.S., China cooperation important for U.S. exports: former USTRs

14:20, March 04, 2011      

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Despite continuing trade disputes, the United States and China share an unprecedented opportunity to boost the domestic economy and create jobs if they maintain close dialogue and cooperation, former U.S. trade representatives (USTR) told Xinhua Thursday.

"China has done so well in its economic development, especially when it allows its people to be productive," Charlene Barshefsky, USTR from 1997 to 2001, said after finishing a panel discussion on U.S. trade agenda in 2011 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Several other former USTRs also spoke at the event held at the Washington-based think tank.

As a leading engine of global recovery from the financial crisis, China's growth has been extremely robust in the past three decades, and China has outpaced Japan as the second largest economy in the world, Barshefsky said.

She said the world economy has been witnessing several broad trends in recent years, including the reemergence of China and the integration of Asian countries around China, which have created a structural shift in the global trade and economic system.

As two key players in world trade, China and the United States need "more robust and more direct" dialogue to understand each other, Barshefsky said.

Clayton Yeutter, USTR from 1985 to 1989, said in an interview with Xinhua that China's fast growth provides the potential of market access for U.S. agricultural goods, manufactured products and services.

"Now China is not only a major exporter in the world, but also an important importer," he said.

Speaking about President Barack Obama's trade goal of doubling export in five years, Yeutter said "it is possible but very difficult," since the plan he laid out was to increase U.S. exports to 2 trillion dollars from 1 trillion in 2010.

In January 2010, Obama pledged to double the country's export growth by 2015, which he said could create 2 million jobs.

Earlier on Tuesday, current USTR Ron Kirk said in a report that U.S. exports surged about 17 percent in 2010 and have supported hundreds of thousands of jobs in the country.

In the annual report sent to Congress, Kirk outlined the trade agenda for 2011, which will focus on supporting more and better U.S. jobs.

Given the high unemployment rate -- currently at 9 percent and not expected to drop significantly in the short run -- the Obama administration has been making more efforts to push its trade agenda.

William E. Brock, USTR during the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1985, said both China and the United States need economic growth to create jobs and deal with other challenges.

The U.S. economy is recovering, and China's urbanization means vast development potential. The two sides can create more opportunities for cooperation if they can understand each other better through effective communication, he said.

Still, some U.S. statesmen remain critical of China's role in alleviating the U.S. trade deficit.

Rob Portman, a former USTR under George W. Bush and currently senator for Ohio, said he is concerned that China may "not play by the rules."

However, Brock said the United States should not "blame others," but should solve its own fundamental problems.

This point was echoed by Barshefsky. "We have to get our house in order," she said.

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