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Paulson urges China to lift barriers on environmental technology

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 3, 2008
US Treasury chief Henry Paulson urged China Thursday to lift import barriers on environmental technologies, turning the tables on the Chinese, who often blame the Americans for curbing hi-tech trade.

The call came as China pressed the United States to lift its own export restrictions that affect China and to reduce trade and investment barriers to boost bilateral trade, Xinhua news agency reported.

Paulson Thursday wound up his visit to Beijing, part of a routine economic exchange between the two nations, during which he met President Hu Jintao to discuss pressing financial concerns.

"Adopting advanced technology will increase China's energy efficiency and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and harmful pollutants," Paulson told an audience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"But bringing this technology to China is hindered by the high tariff and non-tariff barriers that China places on environmental goods and services."

He mentioned the example of a water membrane technology that could help local communities take significant steps towards reducing the pollution entering rivers from power plants.

"That means that within months, some Chinese citizens could have cleaner water. Yet a tariff of 22 percent on water membranes makes this technology too expensive for many communities," he said.

"A high priority should be given to eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers on products, goods and services that can improve the health and welfare of the Chinese people."

"Cooperation in the economic and trade fields is an important basis for Sino-American relations," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in a press release, according to Xinhua late Thursday.

It added that Wen had called for the two nations to step up cooperation in the fields of energy and the environment.

The US trade deficit with China jumped 10.2 percent last year to a record 256.3 billion dollars. Xinhua reported that Wen had said Beijing was taking steps to address this and was seeing "some positive effects."

China has argued the United States could help lower the deficit by reducing restrictions on high-tech exports to China.

The United States has claimed China is keeping its yuan currency undervalued to maintain a trade advantage.

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