BEIJING -- US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez began a trip to Beijing yesterday to help American entrepreneurs clinch deals and to discuss barriers that have contributed to a soaring and politically touchy Chinese trade surplus.
Highlighting his efforts to increase US exports, Gutierrez watched Motorola Inc. sign a contract to supply $1.6 billion worth of cellphones to a Chinese distributor. He also presided at a ceremony by studio Twentieth Century Fox's home entertainment division to distribute moderately priced authorized DVDs in the piracy-plagued China market.
Gutierrez held talks with senior Chinese trade officials that he said broadly covered access to the China market, persisting product piracy, and unclear government regulations.
Americans are worried about record trade imbalances with China -- projected to rise 12 percent to $228 billion this year. Pressure on the Bush administration over the deficit is expected to increase following the Democratic Party's recapture of Congress last week.
Trying to seize the initiative, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi told Gutierrez: "We welcome the exports of your country. The Chinese market is completely opened to the outside world."
Wu reiterated a longstanding Chinese complaint that American export controls prohibited the transfer of high-technology products, thereby keeping some US goods out of China.
Gutierrez, who brought along a delegation of 25 businesses, from heavy equipment makers to architecture firms, stressed that Washington sought more open markets, not protectionism.