China willing to reform export credit system: U.S. official

BEIJING Thu May 3, 2012 4:45am EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is willing to reform its export-credit financing, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday, a move that can help level the playing field between Chinese exporters and companies in other countries.

"We have seen a very important shift in position on the part of Chinese authorities," the official said on the sidelines of the annual U.S.-China economic and diplomatic meetings in Beijing.

"They are now talking about sitting down and negotiating a new international agreement on disciplines on export credits," the official said.

The United States, the 27 nations of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland already have rules on the use of government export credits under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a rich nations club.

China is not party to that pact and U.S. companies have complained that its cheap government-backed financing often makes it difficult to conclude sales.

The U.S. official said that an agreement with China would help level the playing field between China and other countries whose exporters are competing on the "quality and their products rather than how much subsidies a government provides."

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner and Ramya Venugopal)