Off to China: Keep Manufacturing at the Forefront

By December 11, 2006Trade

Last week, Congress wound up achieving major successes for manufacturing. This week, it’s the Administration’s turn to at least make progress for manufacturers in the United States — progress in China, that is.

Headed by Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson, top Administration officials are headed to Beijing for the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. Paulson discussed the mission in a Washington Post op-ed today: A Broad Dialogue With China.

It’s a high-profile delegation, to say the least. Joining Paulson are Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.

A good U.S. News story highlights the major concern of manufacturers:

In preparation for the visit, the delegation met with U.S. manufacturers, who blame Beijing for fueling the record American trade deficit with China. “We hope we will see faster movement from China on appreciating its currency,” says Frank Vargo of the National Association of Manufacturers, members of which met with Paulson. “Otherwise, we will almost certainly see protectionism grow, both here and in Europe.” [NAM release on that meeting.]

This morning’s coverage from Reuters offers some prospect of progress.

BEIJING – China promised on Monday to respond positively to the United States in high-level economic talks this week but drew a line in the sand by telling Washington that its exchange rate is a matter of national sovereignty.

This is a critical issue for the U.S. manufacturing economy. We’ll be following this dialogue closely…with high expectations.