WASHINGTON — The Bush administration’s handling of the U.S. economic relationship with China is “in need of urgent attention and course correction,” concluded a blunt review of White House policies released Tuesday by a panel appointed by Congress.
The 267-page report issued by the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission echoes many complaints cited by business and labor groups, including U.S. textile makers, about the unfair trade practices of China. The report said the U.S. has waited long enough for China to amend its ways since joining the World Trade Organization two years ago.
“If we falter in the use of our economic and political influence now to effect positive change in China, we will have squandered a historic opportunity,” the commission said.
The 11-member commission, appointed by Republicans and Democrats, concluded that it’s up to Congress to pressure the Bush administration to fix the U.S.’ uneven relationship with China on trade, which the panel said threatens U.S. security because it affects the U.S. economy. At the top of the panel’s concerns is China’s $124 billion trade deficit with the U.S.
“The U.S.-China economic relationship is of such large dimensions that the future trends of globalization will be influenced to a substantial degree by how the United States manages its economic relations with China,” the review said. “It is reasonable to believe that U.S.-China economic relations will help shape the rules of the road for broader global trade relations.”
In reaction to the commission’s findings, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Josette Shiner said: “The United States is in the lead of global efforts to ensure that China follows through on its WTO commitments. We’re actively engaged with them on solving problems and leveling the playing field for American exporters, manufacturers, workers and farmers.”
On the list of commission concerns is the administration’s limited response in imposing quotas on Chinese textiles and apparel imports when they flood the U.S. market. So far, the administration has imposed so-called safeguard quotas on a limited selection of products for this year. Many sourcing executives feel China will take an even more dominant position as a supplier of apparel and textiles once quotas limiting the trade are completely phased out Jan. 1 for WTO members.The commission also criticized the administration for not moving against China for depressing its currency. By pegging the yuan to the dollar, Chinese imports into the U.S. are thought to cost 15 to 40 percent less than if it floated freely, which the commission said “has contributed to the erosion of manufacturing jobs and jobless recovery in the United States.”
Other commission concerns include China’s lack of worker rights, the frequency of theft of product design and other intellectual property, restrictions on direct foreign investment and growing energy needs that could lead to its building alliances with non-U.S. friendly countries “and, in some cases, may involve dangerous weapons transfers.”
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