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China approves $45 billion in U.S. export deals

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Chinese government has approved contracts worth a total of $45 billion with U.S. companies to export goods to China, the Obama administration said Wednesday.

The contracts will support an estimated 235,000 jobs for American workers, according to a statement from the White House. The deals cover a variety of exports, including agricultural products, computers, automobiles and auto parts, as well as industrial materials and technology.

The announcement comes as Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama hold a series of high profile meetings in Washington this week to discuss trade and other economic issues.

In preparation for the visit, China approved $19 billion in contracts with Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) to provide 200 planes for Chinese airlines over the next three years, which will support an estimated 100,000 jobs.

The Chinese government has signed 70 contracts with U.S. exporters to provide goods for state-owned companies, the White House said. Those contracts total $25 billion and involve companies from 12 U.S. states.

The White House said 11 investment contracts worth $3.24 billion have been signed with China, and $13.1 billion worth of "other transactions" are being "announced or showcased."

Among the other big U.S. companies involved in the contracts are General Electric (GE, Fortune 500), Caterpillar (CAT, Fortune 500) and Honeywell (HON, Fortune 500), according to the White House.

Trade policies have been somewhat of a sore spot for the two nations recently, with U.S. officials urging China to open up domestic markets and allow its currency to appreciate.

In addition to the trade deals, China will take new steps to improve its enforcement of intellectual property rights and broaden government procurement polices, a senior White House official told reporters in a conference call.

Expanding on an agreement made last month at a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the official said China will now "delink intellectual property rights generally from government procurement."

Previously, companies were required to register their intellectual property rights in China before they could qualify for government contracts there.

China has also agreed to conduct an audit of a program intended to ensure that state-owned enterprises purchase licensed software. It will also subject "sub-government entities" to the same procurement policies as the Central Government, the official said.

In a press conference later Wednesday afternoon, Obama praised China for its efforts toward allowing more U.S. businesses access to government contracts.

"We're making progress on making sure that the government procurement process in China is open and fair to American businesses," Obama said. "And we've made progress as a consequence of this state visit."

Obama also mentioned the efforts China has made on protecting intellectual property rights, but suggested that he expects more.

"The Chinese government has, to its credit, taken steps to better enforce intellectual property," he said. "And I think President Hu would acknowledge that more needs to be done."

Obama noted that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in a meeting with other top U.S. business leaders, estimated that only one in 10 of the company's Chinese customers actually pay for their products.  To top of page

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