Significant progress in U.S.-China relations that would benefit American companies and workers is possible this year, said Ron Woodard, president - Boeing Commercial Airplane Group. Woodard made the comment today during a speech at the Oklahoma-China trade conference.
"This year provides a dramatic opportunity to advance U.S.-China relations," Woodard told an audience of business and civic leaders. Referring to the highly successful summit meeting last fall between President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin of China, Woodard said the reciprocal visit of President Clinton to China in June is an opportunity "to further strengthen commerce and trade ties between our two countries."
Woodard said that current negotiations aimed at making China a member of the World Trade Organization - the formal group that sets and enforces trade rules among its members - is an important next step. "When China joins the WTO - and U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshevsky is working hard to negotiate a fair accession agreement - it will be time for the United States to move beyond the annual debate" over whether we should treat China the same as our other trading partners, Woodard said.
Woodard also noted the economic impact of Boeing's China sales on Oklahoma. "Boeing has some 2,000 employees here in the state - and more than 200 suppliers who help the company build airplanes for sale to China," he said.