China agrees to purchase billions in US goods

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration, trying to build ties with an economic rival, said Wednesday that China would buy $25 billion in U.S. goods and had given final approval to a long-negotiated $19 billion deal for 200 Boeing planes.

The announcement came as Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived at the White House for a state visit with President Barack Obama.

The agreements could ease some concerns from Washington and Americans businesses, which contend China has hurt U.S. exports by keeping its currency artificially low. That makes Chinese products cheaper in the U.S. and U.S. products more expensive in China.

At a White House meeting with business leaders, Hu told U.S. executives he welcomed their business and said his country was speeding up economic restructuring and trying to boost domestic consumption — a chief concern for the U.S. as it looks to reduce the trade gap with China.

Obama said at a joint news conference later with Hu that while there are vast opportunities to expand U.S. trade and investment with China, both countries must create conditions to ensure their economic relationship is balanced.

“I did also stress to President Hu that there has to be a level playing field for American companies competing in China, that trade has to be fair,” Obama said.

The U.S. exports about $100 billion annually to China in goods and services, supporting about half a million American jobs, according to the White House. Officials said Wednesday the new deals with China would support up to 235,000 jobs in the U.S.

Chinese airline weighs Lambert as hub

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Progress is apparently being made in the effort to make St. Louis a hub for trade with China.

The Midwest-China Hub Commission announced Wednesday that China Cargo Airline is negotiating and studying the use of Lambert Airport as an international air cargo hub.

Mike Jones, chairman of the Midwest-China Hub Commission, says that while much work remains, the decision suggests that there is considerable interest in selecting St. Louis as a hub.

The Midwest-China Hub Commission was formed in 2009 and is a public-private collaboration among St. Louis region and state governmental and business leaders.

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