Chinese Vice Premier To Meet Paulson On Trade Gap, Buy Billions In Imports

According to a business newspaper, the Chinese plan to buy $16 billion worth of U.S. imports when Vice Premier Wu Yi visits Washington in May.

BEIJING (AP) - China plans to buy U.S. goods worth at least $16 billion when a senior leader visits Washington in May for talks on trade tensions, a business newspaper reported Monday.

The report came amid mounting U.S. pressure on China to rein in its soaring trade surplus. Washington has imposed new tariffs on imports of Chinese paper, and news reports Monday said it was preparing to file a World Trade Organization complaint over Beijing's failure to stop rampant product piracy.

A delegation representing 111 Chinese companies is due to travel to the U.S. with Vice Premier Wu Yi, the 21st Century Business Herald said, citing unidentified sources. Wu is to meet with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Washington's point man on trade with China.

The report did not say what the companies would purchase. But it said the total will ''far exceed'' the $16.2 billion in goods bought by Chinese companies ahead of President Hu Jintao's 2006 visit to the U.S. Last year's shopping list included Boeing Co. jetliners, soybeans and other goods.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for information.

China often arranges such multibillion-dollar purchasing missions in connection with high-level visits to the United States in hopes of easing trade tensions. The United States says its deficit with China last year rose to a record $232.5 billion.

The 10-day planned purchasing mission this year will begin May 13 and go to Washington, San Francisco, Atlanta and Minneapolis, the Business Herald said.

American companies and industry groups say they expect China to organize such a buying mission but say they have received no details on planned purchases.

Dow Jones Newswires reported last week that China was preparing a plan to buy $12.5 billion worth of U.S. soybeans, cotton, machinery and electronics.

Trade tensions have flared in recent weeks. Beijing reacted angrily when Washington announced new tariffs March 30 on Chinese paper to counter what it said were improper subsidies. U.S. lawmakers are threatening to propose new measures to force China to ease currency controls that critics blame for its rising surpluses.

Also Monday, news reports said Washington was preparing to file a WTO complaint over Beijing's failure to stamp out rampant piracy of movies, music and other goods.

Wu and Paulson are meeting as part of a ''strategic economic dialogue'' launched last year in an effort to ease disputes that threaten to derail one of the world's biggest trading relationships.

Paulson has warned that the process must produce short-term results to mollify American critics and maintain support for free trade.


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