U.S. to Host Chinese Trade Talks at Naval Academy in June

The United States and China will hold the fourth round of high-level economic talks on June 17-18 in Annapolis, Md.

The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that the discussions will take place at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The U.S. delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has used previous sessions to press the Chinese to move more quickly to allow their currency to rise in value against the dollar.

American manufacturers have complained that the Chinese currency is undervalued by as much as 40 percent, giving Chinese producers a huge price advantage against American companies.

Last month, the administration declined to cite China for manipulating its currency to gain unfair trade advantages in a report to Congress. The administration determined that China did not meet the technical requirements for currency manipulation although it stated that Beijing needed to address what it called the "substantial undervaluation" of the Chinese yuan.

Congressional critics complained that the administration was failing to protect American workers for fear that by branding China as a currency manipulator it could jeopardize its support on such issues as North Korea's nuclear program.

The Chinese government contends it is moving as quickly as it can to revalue the yuan, which has risen in value by about 18 percent against the dollar since the Chinese revamped their currency system in July 2005.

Paulson had hoped to use the new high-level talks, launched in December 2006, to get China to move faster to address not only the currency issue but a number of other contentious trade issues. However, the talks, known as the Strategic Economic Dialogue, have had only limited success so far despite the fact that both countries have sent large delegations to the meetings.

At the last meeting, held in December in Beijing, the discussions covered such issues as food safety and environmental protection and the rise of protectionist sentiments in both countries.

Congressional unhappiness with China's trade practices has grown, reflecting the soaring U.S. trade deficit with China, which last year climbed to an all-time high of $256.3 billion, the highest imbalance ever recorded with a single country.