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U.S. AND CHINESE OFFICIALS LAUNCH HOUSING COOPERATION INITIATIVE
WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Commerce Assistant Secretary Michael Copps, and Chinese Construction Minister Yu Zhengsheng today signed an agreement creating a Housing Cooperation Initiative that will enable their two nations to work together to improve and expand housing development.
The agreement, which is designed to provide new housing opportunities for families and to create housing industry jobs and stronger economies in both nations, creates a U.S.-China Residential Building Council. The new Council will participate in activities that the United States and the People's Republic of China undertake to exchange information and to cooperate on housing development.
Executives of some of the top American organizations and businesses involved in housing finance and development will be part of the Residential Building Council, along with top Chinese housing officials. The Council will be chaired by Secretary Cuomo, Commerce Secretary William Daley and Minister Yu.
The Housing Cooperation Initiative will include visits by Chinese housing officials to the United States and visits by U.S. housing industry and government officials to China. Minister Yu today invited Secretary Cuomo to visit China.
The first group of Chinese officials to visit America under the new agreement is scheduled to arrive in two weeks and will go to the cities of Washington and Boston on a two-week trip to study the system of taxes and tax incentives affecting housing in the United States.
"This agreement is good for both the United States and China, good for American and Chinese families, and good for the housing industries in each of our countries," Secretary Cuomo said. "This agreement with strengthen the ties between our nations and lead to a long and productive partnership."
"This Council is an outstanding example of public-private sector commitment that will help expand commercial engagement with our fourth largest trading partner," said Secretary Daley, who was in Europe and was represented by Deputy Secretary Mallet at the signing ceremony for the U.S.-China agreement. "Opening China's housing market to U.S. goods and services would support an improved U.S. trade balance with China and advance the long-term interests of both our nations."
"Housing exchanges will spur the economic development of both the United States and China," Minister Yu said.
The visit by the Chinese delegation marks the first Chinese Ministerial visit to the United States focused on housing sector cooperation. Chinese and U.S. officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding creating the Housing Cooperation Initiative in a ceremony at HUD headquarters this morning. American groups and businesses represented on the new U.S.-China Residential Building Council are: the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, housing finance company Fannie Mae, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, Habitat for Humanity International, Asian Americans for Equality, the American Institute of Architects, the American Forest Products and Paper Association, the North American Steel Framing Alliance, Lehman Brothers, Owens Corning, U.S. Holding Corporation, the Cooperative Housing Foundation, Telesis Corporation, Congress for the New Urbanism, Dessen International, and the company of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. (SEE ATTACHMENT FOR NAMES OF OFFICIALS ON THE COUNCIL).
In March 1998, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji introduced a package of reforms - including a series of housing reforms - intended to stimulate China's economy. The Premier announced that subsidized housing traditionally available to Chinese workers would be phased out and that workers would be encouraged to buy their own homes from the State or pay a more commercial rent. The reforms called for workers to use their savings, along with the one-time housing subsidies they receive, to buy their own houses.
In response, last year President Clinton announced U.S. support for China's goal of increasing homeownership and called for the creation of the U.S.-China Residential Building Council to promote new technologies and energy efficient materials to build sturdy and affordable homes. The President also called on the Department of Commerce to send U.S. experts to China to discuss how to build a stronger housing finance system by, for example, strengthening property rights and developing stronger mortgage markets. The role of the Residential Building Council will be to develop strategies to achieve these goals.
Recognizing the importance of housing and the objectives of China's housing reform efforts, the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Commerce, United States of America and the Ministry of Construction in the Government of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter "the Parties") have reached the following agreement on a Housing Cooperation Initiative:
This Memorandum of Understanding establishes the U.S.-China Residential Building Council to formulate and implement the Housing Cooperation Initiative.
The U.S.-China Residential Building Council will consist of a Steering Committee and a Secretariat. Both sides may also invite other concerned government departments, public institutions, research institutes and enterprises to participate in Council activities.
The Steering Committee plans to meet every two years, alternately in the United States and the People's Republic of China. Its main responsibilities include: determining the cooperation guidelines, principles, framework, priorities and approach, and examining and approving bi-annual cooperation plans.
The Secretariat is a standing body under the Steering Committee. Its main responsibility is to coordinate the activities of the Committee.
The intention of this Initiative is to create an organized and systematic approach for exchange and cooperation in the field of housing development. This initiative may be implemented through mutual visits and study tours, exhibitions, seminars and workshops, and construction of demonstration projects.
The U.S.-China Residential Building Council may also through its cooperative discussions and activities, advance the achievement of the great economic potential of housing and promote the social objectives of the U.S. and China.
Funding for any specific project under this Initiative or the work conducted by the Residential Building Council is contingent upon the availability of financial resources from the Parties.
Activities under this Memorandum of Understanding commence upon signature and continue in effect for five (5) years, until the Memorandum of Understanding is terminated by either party giving six (6) months notification to the other party.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009
Content Archived: January 20, 2009