06/17/2008, 00.00
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Fourth strategic economic dialogue between Washington and Beijing begins

Concrete results are awaited in the matter of access to each other's markets and commerce, but energy and exchange rates will also be discussed. Meanwhile, agreements totalling 13.6 billion dollars have been concluded between companies from the two countries. The "discreet" insistence of Beijing for Bush to appear at the Olympics. Yuan at a record against the dollar.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Chinese deputy prime minister Wang Qishan has arrived in the United States, where today and tomorrow, at the Naval Academy in Annapolis (Maryland), the fourth strategic economic dialogue between China and the United States will be held.  Meanwhile, he witnessed the signing of 71 economic agreements between companies from the two countries, for a value of 13.8 billion dollars in the sectors of agriculture, automobiles, airplane motors, heavy equipment, telecommunications, semiconductors, and electronic components.  He met with local politicians and businessmen, stressing that cooperation between the companies of the two countries is a "milestone" for political relations as well.

The talks, which began in 2006, take place twice a year between representatives at the highest level.  Beijing wants greater access to the U.S. market for its investments, in order to respond to the country's needs for new markets for investment and the acquisition of raw materials, while the United States has followed a "protectionist" policy and does not want its companies to fall into foreign hands, as shown by the rejection of bids from the Chinese companies Cnooc (petroleum) and Huawei (telecommunications) to acquire U.S. companies.

Washington, represented by treasury secretary Henry Paulson, is asking for access for its companies to the Chinese financial services sector, and a faster revaluation of the yuan to reduce the trade deficit and combat the invasion of Chinese goods.  In recent days the yuan, after a period of stagnation, resumed its rise against the dollar, crossing below the exchange rate of 6.9: since July of 2005, when the currency was allowed to float, it has gained 20% against the dollar.  But Beijing maintains that its financial companies are not capable of competing with foreign ones, and that a more rapid monetary revaluation would damage its exports.  Talks will also address energy and the environment, and there may be discussion of the institution of a forum to resolve trade disputes between the two countries.

Experts maintain that Wang will also seek to convince U.S. president George W. Bush to participate in the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Beijing.  Following the international protests over the repression in Tibet, Bush has not yet said whether he will attend.  The announcement of his presence could influence many Western leaders.

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