Bush Trade Chief Stops Back Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Marie Kukec Daily Herald Staff Writer

International trade Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick said Thursday that area manufacturers could start to see China more as a trade partner than as a threat to their bottom lines.

"We've been working with China to help phase in more removal of their trade barriers," Zoellick told the Daily Herald in an interview. "We're already seeing 22 percent more of our exports go to China and farmers who grow soybeans and cotton have seen record sales."

Zoellick, who serves on President George W. Bush's cabinet as chief negotiator for the World Trade Organization, returned to his hometown of Naperville for the first time in 20 years to discuss world trade with area students and business and community leaders.

Since April, hundreds of area manufacturers have held various meetings, including one in Naperville, to discuss their worries about the impact of globalization, jobs moving overseas and China's competition with less expensive products.

"We're going to make sure that China opens their market for our goods as well," Zoellick said.

In October, Zoellick will go to China to continue those trade talks. China entered the WTO in 2001 and has since sold more products in American markets.

"How do we help the U.S. manufacturers to compete? It's to open markets in China," Zoellick said.

Besides China, Zoellick next week will go to South America, including Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua, for other trade talks.

Despite the pressures of dealing with global trade negotiations, Zoellick made time Thursday to talk with students from Naperville Central High School, where he graduated from in 1971. …