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Bush Administration Calls For Review Of China Trade

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The Bush administration has sent Congress a top-to-bottom Chinese trade policy review that calls for additional staffing and some new initiatives, but no specific recommendations for actions to slow the growth of Chinese imports.

In the report, titled “US-China Trade Relations: Entering a New Phase of Greater Enforcement and Accountability,” the administration said “the time has come to readjust our trade policy with respect to China.” In releasing the report, US Trade Representative Rob Portman said “As a mature trading partner, China should be held accountable for its actions and required to live up to its responsibilities, including opening markets and enforcing intellectual property rights.” Portman said the United States would “use all options available to meet this challenge.” The report does not recommend any legislation or cite examples of how Chinese import growth can be slowed down.

The report, which is larded with strong rhetoric seeks to develop a number of new mechanisms, in consultation with Congress and other stakeholders, to achieve goals that would result in better balance in US trade with China. These initiatives include creating a “China Enforcement Task Force in the USTR office and additional staffing in the US government’s Beijing offices. It also calls for better inter-agency cooperation within the executive branch and “regular coordination” with Congress on designing and implementing an effective China policy.

When asked at a news conference about any new legislative initiatives, Portman said he is not asking for any specific piece of legislation, but he noted there currently are a number of proposals in Congress. He said he hopes the report will provide Congress with information that will be useful in helping it address Chinese trade issues. While he did not mention any timetable, he said he expects Congress to act at some point.

While he has not yet received any reaction from China, Portman expressed the hope China would receive the report as “an objective, thorough analysis.”

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