US trade official: Export drive makes US reluctant to spark trade disputes with China

By Aoife White, AP
Friday, March 26, 2010

US reluctant to spark trade disputes with China

BRUSSELS — U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk said Friday that he is reluctant to wade into long-running trade disputes with China as the United States tries to double its exports to emerging markets over the next five years.

U.S. politicians and businesses have complained about the Chinese government’s actions in keeping its currency at a low value against the U.S. dollar which makes Chinese goods cheaper for American buyers — and hikes the cost of American goods for Chinese shoppers.

U.S. companies also complain about barriers to doing business in China.

Search engine Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California, started this week to withdraw partially from China after a two-month dispute with the Chinese government over censorship policy. It is redirecting search traffic from mainland China to an uncensored Hong Kong service.

Kirk told reporters in Brussels that the U.S. “will stand up and enforce Google’s rights,” but would prefer to avoid legal action over disputes to do with China’s renminbi and Google to aid small businesses’ export drive.

“I can promise you these small businesses cannot survive a seven-year, five-year, three-year dispute,” he said. “Small businesses just don’t have the capital, the resources,” he said.

“They need help now and as challenging as China may be for Google … my first preference is always to see if we can’t build a partnership to work with China to see if we can’t get a resolution sooner rather than later.”

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