U.S. disappointed with Chinese export subsidies: EXIM chairman

August 9, 2016 7:37 AM EDT

U.S. Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Export-Import Bank's reauthorization, on Capitol Hill in Washington June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTR4YP2M

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By Sue-Lin Wong

BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior U.S. trade official on Tuesday complained that China's rising export subsidies were damaging American businesses and criticised the U.S. political system for failing to adapt to competition from China.

U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) Chairman Fred Hochberg told reporters in Beijing that China gave its exporters 10 times more financing than the U.S. did in 2015, predicting the issue would be on the agenda at the G20 summit in Hangzhou next month.

In 2015, U.S. EXIM approved $12.4 billion in export financing.

During his trip to Beijing, Hochberg met with the Export-Import Bank of China, which he said extended $30 billion last year and he said another agency benefitting exporters, Sinosure, gave $471 billion last year to aid Chinese business and investment overseas.

He said he was disappointed China has yet to sign up to a global framework regulating export subsidies.

"China's the second largest economy in the world and the largest exporter, they really need to be part of this (framework)," he said, blaming Beijing's preference for cutting "side deals".

When asked whether China would be likely agree to such a global framework, Hochberg warned of a "race to the bottom" if Beijing declined to participate.

Hochberg's comments come as China had another record trade surplus in July even as imports from trading partners continued falling.

Some U.S. politicians are calling for retaliation against China. Presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese goods.

A U.S. EXIM report published last year said China provided exporters more funding over two years than U.S. EXIM has given its exporters over its 81-year history.


"China is both a competitor and a customer," Hochberg said.

"Understanding that requires just a more nuanced view."

Hochberg also had criticisms for the U.S. Congress for failing to support EXIM, weakening its negotiating position, and leaving the bank with over $20 billion in backlogged deals.

"It's confounding to U.S. exporters, it's confounding to U.S. workers and it's confounding to our overseas buyers," he said.

The bank was shut down for five months last year after conservative U.S. legislators accused it of "corporate welfare".

Although the bank has been reauthorised, confirmation of a third board member, required to approve loans above $10 million, has been halted by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby.

(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Pete Sweeney and Richard Borsuk)

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