President Bush is urging China to live up to its international trade obligations. Mr. Bush says working to ensure fair trade with China is a priority for Rob Portman, the new U.S. Trade Representative.
Rob Portman wasted no time getting to work once he was confirmed by the Senate, and took the oath of office immediately.
His ceremonial swearing-in at the White House days later was a far more elaborate affair, and it provided President Bush with an opportunity to highlight key trade issues.
Among them is assuring Chinese compliance with international trade regulations. Mr. Bush said, overall, China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been a good thing for the United States. But he stressed that countries who sign trade agreements must live up to their terms.
"When it joined the WTO, China also agreed to the rules of international trade, and it's in the interest of both China and the United States for China to abide by them," said Mr. Bush.
The president said Ambassador Portman will work to ensure China stops the piracy of U.S. intellectual property, lifts the barriers that keep American goods and services out of China, and makes sure that these products are distributed fairly.
Standing side-by-side with the president, Mr. Portman conceded he faces a big task. He said China's WTO membership is important, because it brought the Chinese into a rule-based trade system. But he quickly added many challenges remain.
"We face a trade deficit that is too high, in part because the Chinese do not always play by the rules. I have already begun a top-to-bottom review of China trade issues, and I will work closely with Congress to see that American workers, farmers and businesses are treated fairly," he said.
Other items high on the trade agenda include winning Congressional approval for a new free trade agreement with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, and moving forward with the current round of world trade negotiations.