Trade lawmakers urge US to take tough stance with China

Four top trade lawmakers are urging U.S. officials to address a broad range of concerns with China during the three-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) beginning Sunday. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) sent a letter on Friday saying that the upcoming talks “occur at a time of increasingly troubling developments in China’s economic policies.”  

{mosads}They called on top U.S. officials, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry, to urge China to pursue market-oriented economic policies instead of maintaining their practice of excessive government intervention. 

The lawmakers called the meeting a “critical opportunity to address the barriers and distortions that endanger the well-being of the U.S.-China economic relationship and the international economy.”

They ticked off a handful of major concerns including currency manipulation, the protection of intellectual property, cybersecurity issues, the overcapacity of commodities such as steel, aluminum and solar, and the persistence of state-owned enterprises. 

“Instead of following through on its asserted desire to move towards a market-determined exchange rate, China has continued to let the government play a decisive role in determining the value of the renminbi,” they wrote in the letter also addressed to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

“This practice cannot continue.”

Lew and Kerry arrive in Beijing on Sunday for the start of the summit. 

On Sunday, Lew will participate in a discussion on U.S.-China economic relations at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.

In the evening, he will attend a dinner with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang at the Summer Palace. 

The lawmakers said China continues to follow “old models of investment-led growth” and that path is creating “severe shocks in the global marketplace.”

“At the same time, the new policies that China is unveiling appear to undermine fair and open competition in the Chinese market,” they wrote.

The lawmakers also noted that trade secrets theft in China is a major problem for U.S. companies. Additionally, Beijing is implementing policies that will hamper the development of the digital economy and U.S. agricultural exports to China continue to face significant regulatory barriers. 

“Despite positive commitments made by China during President Xi’s visit to Washington last year, approval of innovative U.S. biotechnology products remains slow, irregular, and unpredictable,” they wrote.

“This situation has caused serious price disruptions in the international market for U.S. agricultural products and harm to U.S. farmers.”

They also called for the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement and completion of the Environmental Goods Agreement.  

“There are important, difficult reforms and course corrections that China must undertake in order to make it possible for the U.S.-China economic relationship — and the global economy — to achieve their full potentials,” they wrote.

“We urge you to impress upon China the enormous stakes at issue in our bilateral relationship and partnership.” 

Tags Jack Lew John Kerry Kevin Brady Michael Froman Orrin Hatch Penny Pritzker Ron Wyden Sander Levin U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue Xi Jinping
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