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Remarks by Michelle O'Neill

Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

U.S.-China Trade Cooperation Forum

Hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import Export of Machinery and Electronic Products
Washington, D.C.
April 27, 2009

As prepared for delivery

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today at the U.S.-China Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum. This Forum presents a great opportunity to bring together U.S. and Chinese government and business representatives to explore how we can strengthen our commercial ties during these tough economic times.

I would like to thank Myron and the Chamber, as well as Vice President Yao and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), for organizing this event. And I would like to again welcome Minister Chen, Vice Minister Ma, and the distinguished Chinese government and business delegation to the United States.

Importance of Rejecting Protectionism

Minister Chen and his trade delegation are visiting the United States at a critical time, as governments around the world are looking for a clear path to economic recovery. And trade, specifically between the United States and China, has an important role to play in impacting the rebound of the global economy.  This global challenge reminds us that we must work together to find comprehensive solutions.  Our leaders, President Obama and President Hu, together with leaders of other major economies of the world, reminded us of this at the G-20 Summit in London.

In these tough economic times, it is tempting to put up walls along our borders and seek refuge in trade and investment protectionism or in so-called “economic nationalism.”  It is easy to retreat to the “safety” of trade restrictions and to the well-worn path of export-led growth. But history has taught us that such quick-fix responses are not only short-sighted, but that they can also negatively impact economic growth in the long run.

Protectionism is not the answer -- it will only prolong and deepen the crisis. For the United States, as Secretary Locke said in his confirmation hearing, “there has never been a more important time for this country to have strong trade partnerships around the world.”

Minister Chen, it is in this light that I welcome you and your trade mission on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  We welcome this clear indication of your desire to work with us to address the serious imbalances in our bilateral trade relationship and to promote growth through open trade and investment.

The U.S. – China economic and trade relationship has evolved over the past 30 years into one of the most important bilateral ties in the world today.  China has become our second largest trading partner, our largest source of imports and the largest export market for American goods outside of North America.   Since China joined the WTO in 2001, our exports to China have grown by some 270 percent. This remarkable growth is a testimony to the positive nature of U.S. trade with China.  But our trade relationship still has its challenges. 

To address these challenges, we have consistently advocated and will continue to advocate for engagement. We believe that the best way to address our trade imbalance is through increased U.S. exports and market access to China, and continued dialogue on key bilateral trade issues.

JCCT Accomplishments

At the G-20 Summit in London, President Obama and President Hu also underscored the importance of continuing to mutually advance economic and trade issues through the high-level U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade or JCCT, chaired by Commerce Secretary Locke, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, and Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

The JCCT includes a series of bilateral meetings, as well as technical working groups that work to resolve trade issues and expand commercial opportunities between our two nations. At last year’s meeting, we agreed on a range of issues, from China’s elimination of redundant testing requirements for medical devices, to progress on China’s joining the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, to further cooperation on intellectual property rights protection. These important accomplishments build on solid progress in several areas that we made in previous years under the JCCT. 

We believe the JCCT provides real opportunities for American workers, farmers and ranchers in China’s vast and growing market. Having tangible outcomes will be the best way to demonstrate that our policy of dialogue and engagement is the right approach to avoid protectionist pressures and improve livelihoods in both of our countries. 

Foreign Investment

Last but not least, I would like to mention investment.  Minister Chen, I read with great interest your recent article that highlights the importance of investment to the growth of trade. 

We greatly appreciate the inclusion of an investment component in your buying missions to the United States.  We recognize the importance of foreign investment in creating jobs, and in fact we have an office in the Commerce Department to promote investment in the United States. 

I would like to underscore what you heard just now from Aaron Brickman -- that the United States welcomes foreign investment, and we want to work with our Chinese counterparts to keep both of our doors open to foreign investment.


I want to thank again the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products for organizing this important forum.

And I want to wish Minister Chen and the members of your delegation great success in your mission. 

We are looking forward to continuing to work with you to advance our economic and trade relations to the benefit of the people of both of our countries.