Duties Bill Dropped as U.S. Prepares for Economic Talks With China

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UPDATED | This is the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT.

The United States and China plan to hold high-level meetings two times each year to discuss economic issues.  The talks, called the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, will be the first of their kind.  The first meeting is expected before the end of the year.

The agreement was announced last week during a visit to China by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.  Mr. Paulson will lead the American side.  China's top negotiator will be Vice Premier Wu Yi.  She noted that President Bush proposed the talks to President Hu Jintao in a telephone call in August.

Probably the top issue facing the negotiators will be the conflict over the Chinese yuan.  Until July of last year, China directly set the exchange rate of the yuan against the dollar.  Since then, China has tied the rate to a small group of foreign currencies, including the dollar and the euro.

The immediate effect was a two percent rise in value.  The yuan has slowly risen further in the past year, but only by an additional two percent or so.  That is too little for many American businesses, especially manufacturers.  They say China's policies have kept the cost of Chinese goods unfairly low on world markets.

Many experts also blame what is seen as a highly undervalued yuan for huge United States trade deficits with China.

But the Bush administration opposed a bill in the Senate to punish China for not letting markets set the value of the yuan.  The bill called for an import tax of almost thirty percent on Chinese goods.  Two senators, Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, proposed the bill.

They announced Thursday that they would drop the legislation.  But they said they would work on a new bill early next year to pressure China.

Recently the value of the yuan has risen faster.  News reports say China is believed to be making policy changes to let this happen.  A central bank official told Reuters on Friday that the bank had no new policy statement about the yuan.

Secretary Paulson, during his visit last week, urged China to put market-based reforms in place.  He said China's economy is expanding too quickly for government controls to be enough.

Mr. Paulson did business in China when he led the investment bank Goldman Sachs.  He has visited China about seventy times.  This was his first visit since he became Treasury secretary in July.

And that's the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT, written by Mario Ritter.  I'm Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English

Source: Duties Bill Dropped as U.S. Prepares for Economic Talks With China
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