President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China are scheduled to meet one-on-one Nov. 11 at the Group of 20 summit amid strains over currency and trade.
The agenda for Obama’s discussion with Hu, their seventh meeting since Obama became president, is likely to include the balance of trade between the two countries as well as U.S. and global concern about the valuation of China’s currency, Jeff Bader, senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, said at a White House briefing today.
“We expect this meeting to build on the cooperation that we’ve established in the 21 months since President Obama took office,” Bader said. Other subjects likely to be addressed include the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, intellectual property rights, Sudan and human rights, he said.
The administration is billing Obama’s four-nation trip, which also includes stops in India, Indonesia and Japan, as an economic mission that will advance the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.
Obama also will meet with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev while on his trip with an agenda that includes Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization. Obama supports Russia joining the 153-member WTO. That meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Yokohama, Japan, which follows the G-20.
Pressure on Yuan
The Obama administration is under pressure from Congress to combat what the U.S. says is an undervalued yuan that gives Chinese exporters an advantage.
The yuan has gained 6.3 percent against the euro and 2.1 percent against the dollar so far this year. It traded at 6.69 to the dollar today in Shanghai, compared with 6.83 at the beginning of the year. China has capped the yuan’s rise to about 2 percent since a June pledge to introduce more flexibility,
Asian leaders meeting in Hanoi this week may discuss calls for China to accelerate yuan gains after the Group of 20 finance chiefs agreed Oct. 23 in South Korea to refrain from weakening currencies to boost exports.
The Obama-Hu talks could also address widening concern about whether China is curbing its exports of rare earth minerals to the U.S., Japan and Europe, Bader said.
He said “the facts are murky” on whether China’s exports have been reduced. He cited new reports from the Chinese ministry of technology saying that China isn’t manipulating mineral exports.
The U.S. goal, he said, “is to ensure that the international market functions without hindrance,” and “in ways that satisfy the needs of major producers in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is on a two-week Asian-Pacific tour, is urging China to clarify its export policy on rare earth elements.