In recognition of the importance and complexity of the US-China economic relationship, in September 2006 President George W. Bush and President Hu Jintao created the “Strategic Economic Dialogue” between our countries. Their intent was not to replace the many economic dialogues already taking place, but to create a senior-level forum that was both comprehensive and strategic. A forum that would also build trust on both sides by demonstrating progress on the immediate issues we face.
The SED has made substantial progress in achieving these goals. The US and China have built stronger relationships and established constructive channels of communication that didn’t previously exist. These innovations have helped keep the US-China economic relationship on an even keel, even in times of tension. Because we have a framework for high-level discussions, we can – and do – pick up the phone and talk.
The SED meeting next week in Beijing will focus on five areas: integrity of trade and product safety; balanced economic development, including financial sector reform; energy efficiency and security; environmental sustainability; and bilateral investment. The meeting comes at a delicate time, as a new group of leaders moves into China’s senior positions, and as the agenda has been broadened to include food and product safety, energy efficiency and security, and environmental sustainability. These issues carry deep implications for economic ties.
Consumers need to have confidence in the safety of the products they purchase, whether produced at home or abroad. China’s management of food and product safety issues will have a long-term impact on trade relations, the sustainability of China’s growth strategy, and its further integration into the global trading system. US and Chinese government agencies are working together to address these issues.