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Chinese firms on US shopping spree

CHINESE companies including China Mobile and China Construction Bank signed purchase deals with US firms worth US$10.6 billion during a meeting in Washington between top trade officials of the two countries.

The deals mainly involved the new energy, telecommunications equipment, electronics and auto component sectors, which are expected by both countries to help provide an impetus for global growth, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said yesterday on its Website.

"History tells us that openness and cooperation is all the more important amid a crisis," said Commerce Minister Chen Deming. "It (trade) is contributing to the economies of both countries - the world's biggest developing country and the biggest developed nation."

Both the United States and China had a tremendous stake in maintaining a vibrant and open international trading system, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement after meeting with Chen.

Trade protectionism wouldn't restore growth, Chen said, just before China Telecom signed contracts with Cisco, Microsoft, Dell and Emerson.

China Mobile concluded deals with Hewlett-Packard, Alcatel-Lucent, Oracle, Emerson, Sun Microsystems and Cisco. China Construction Bank executed contracts with Microsoft, IBM, HP and Cisco. And Ford and Amway signed deals with their Chinese counterparts.

Alcatel-Lucent announced yesterday that it entered into two contracts worth a total US$1.7 billion with China Mobile and China Telecom to provide them with telecommunications equipment and services, including third-generation products. (See more on B3.)

US$150b up for grabs

Cisco, IBM and Dell's spokespersons confirmed the deals yesterday but declined to reveal details. The specifics of the other contracts also were not disclosed.

During the visit to the United States, which has become an annual event, the more than 50 Chinese firms taking part are expected to sign deals worth as much as US$150 billion, according to Yao Wenping, vice director of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.

In 2008, Chinese business delegates spent US$136 billion during their visit to the United States, according to news media reports.

"It's a regular action for China to bring orders (to the US) to better balance bilateral trade. During the economic slowdown, trade will help bring recovery," said Feng Yuming, a macroeconomics analyst at the Orient Securities Co.

Sino-US trade totaled US$409 billion last year, and the two countries were each other's second-largest trade partner, according to the US-China Business Council. China's trade surplus with the United States stood at a record US$266.3 billion in 2008.

China had encouraged its firms to increase imports from America and expand trade with overseas markets, Chen said.

The minister also met with US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke during his visit.

Chen said China's first quarter economic results were "better than expected" and that trade data for the first 20 days of April showed the country's export decline slowed, Reuters reported yesterday.

China's export growth is still expected to decline in the second quarter but at a slower rate than a year ago, analyst Feng said.


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