China-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue Results In Pledge Of Assistance For Global Economy

The fifth Strategic Economic Dialogue between China and the United States resulted in agreements to work together towards alleviating the effects of the ongoing global financial crisis. Other topics discussed included cooperation on protecting the environment and conserving energy. Vice Premier Wang Qishan headed up the Chinese delegation and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson led the U.S. delegation.

Remarking on the two days of intensive discussions, Paulson said that they had been straightforward and productive. He confirmed that through their two Export-Import Banks, China and the United States will make available an additional $20 billion to support trade flows during the current period of financial turmoil. This will be aimed particularly at creditworthy importers in developing countries. This amount is the initial phase of a total of $38 billion in Sin-American annual financing to stimulate global trade.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Steve Johnson gave some details with regard to cooperation on protecting the environment and conserving energy, stating that a number of plans will be put into action, covering areas such as energy efficiency, clean electricity production and transportation, as well as clean air, clean water and conservation measures.

While the results of the Strategic Economic Dialogue appear to be positive, business groups in the United States are concerned about the value of the Chinese yuan contributing to the huge U.S. trade deficit with China. A further drop in the yuan value came days before the high-level talks in Beijing, adding fuel to already burning issues. On Thursday in Beijing, China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming brushed off speculation that his country may be maneuvering depreciation in its currency as a buffer for its exporters against the global economic downturn, referring to the decline of the yuan against the US$ as “quite normal” and noting that he sees it as the US$ strengthening, rather than the yuan depreciating.

This was the last time that authorities from the two countries would be meeting under the Bush administration, and the Vice Premier expressed his hope that President-elect Barack Obama will keep the high level of cooperation going. He also noted that the United States and China have become interdependent and improved Sino-American cooperation will benefit the whole world.