January 12th, 2008 15:56 EST
China urges U.S. to ease hi-tech export bar
A top Chinese official yesterday said the United States should make its export policy more open to help balance the Sino-U.S. trade gap.
The strict regulation on hi-tech exports from the United States is one of the reasons for the country's trade deficit with China, Wang Chao, assistant minister of commerce, said at the U.S.-China Clean Energy Dialogue. Expanded hi-tech exports from the United States will ease the gap, he added.
Yao Wenping, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), agreed. "Every year, many Chinese enterprises want to import hi-tech materials and equipment from the United States, but encounter obstacles."
The United States complains about the huge trade deficit with China - in the first 11 months of 2007, it amounted to 142.22 billion U.S. dollars. This has put pressure on China to take various measures, such as appreciating the yuan, to narrow the gap.
China has taken a series of measures, such as reducing and abolishing its export tax rebates for many products, to dampen exports and encourage imports.
Analysts said if the United States is more open in its hi-tech export policy, things will improve. The United States, instead, alleges that China might have "dual uses" for some hi-tech products and made a new rule in June that expanded licensing requirements for a longer list of items.
Analysts say the United States overreacted since many of the products that China wants are simply for civilian purposes.
Clean energy could be a field where the United States can make more efforts to ease its export controls to help balance Sino-U.S. trade and promote healthy economic and trade exchanges between the two sides, said CCCME's Yao. "Products in this field are purely for civilian use."
Every year Chinese enterprises import huge amounts of solar-energy materials, equipment and technologies from the United States, she said.
China's solar photovoltaic companies have grown fast in recent years. There are 50 to 60 such firms, mostly privately owned, said Yao.
Yao estimated that this year, the value of clean-energy technology procurement and cooperation between Chinese and U.S. firms could amount to $10 billion if "they did not encounter obstacles It could be even higher."
She said China is ready to introduce more clean-energy technologies and products from the United States. In the upcoming China Import and Export Fair to be held in April, the organizers are planning to open a special area for exhibiting new clean-energy technologies and equipment from the United States.
A US delegation led by David Bohigian, US assistant secretary of commerce, is now visiting Beijing. It is composed of some 17 US energy enterprises and is scheduled to meet China's National Development and Reform Commission officials today before they leave for Guangzhou in Guangdong province and Hong Kong.