HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – U.S. President George W. Bush on Sunday encouraged China to become a “nation of consumers” and buy more American manufactured and farm goods.
Bush, meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit, said Washington was pleased with a jump in U.S. exports to China this year and with Beijing’s push to boost consumer demand among its citizens, who are among the most avid savers in the world.
“I strongly support your vision, Mr. President, of encouraging your country to become a nation of consumers and not saver,” Bush told Hu, according to a transcript of the meeting. He said that trend would benefit both U.S. manufacturers and farmers.
“Obviously, with as much commerce between our countries as there is, there’s going to be trade difficulties,” Bush said. “But nevertheless, we both adopt a spirit of mutual respect and the desire to work through our problems for the common good of our peoples.
China’s trade surplus with the U.S. is projected to jump 12 percent to $228 billion this year.
Bush faces growing pressure to counter that trend following the opposition Democratic Party’s capture of Congress in elections earlier this month.
U.S. officials and some businesses have taken aim at China’s controls on its currency, saying its policies keep the yuan’s value artificially low, giving Chinese exporters and unfair advantage.
The two leaders did not discuss currency issues during their meeting Sunday, a Chinese official said.
“The two presidents are happy with the development of Sino-U.S. trade relations. They’re glad to see trade relations are strong and they want to make them stronger,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.
China has acknowledged a need to boost domestic consumer spending to reduce its growing reliance on exports to fuel growth. The country’s communist leader have boosted subsidies to farmers and increased spending on education, health and social services to help reduce financial burdens for ordinary families –aiming to enable them to save less and spend more.
China is American’s fourth-largest export market and one of the fastest growing. U.S. exports to China rose 20.5 percent last year to $41.8 billion. This year, exports have been running 35.7 percent above last year’s pace.
“Actually, our trade has been expanding very rapidly,” Hu told Bush.