Premier Zhu Rongji told US President George W. Bush yesterday that global economic recovery appeared uncertain, while Mr Bush described the rapid growth of China's economy as very important for the US. The two men had an hour-long breakfast meeting in the Diaoyutai state guesthouse, where Beijing had wanted Mr Bush to stay, as is customary with visiting heads of state. But Mr Bush insisted on staying with his entourage in the five-star St Regis Hotel, which was turned into an armed fortress as a result. The meeting was the only one during Mr Bush's 30-hour visit to China in which trade and economics were a major subject. Mr Zhu briefed Mr Bush on the state of China's finances and said the world economy had recently shown signs of recovery, according to Xinhua. 'But factors threatening the growth of the world economy are increasing,' Mr Zhu said. 'We hope to see a stable economic and financial situation in the Asia-Pacific region.' Mr Bush said that while the economies of Asia faced difficulties, the Chinese economy was developing in a rapid and healthy way. 'This is very important for the US economy and good for growth and recovery in the Asia-Pacific region,' he said. During the talks, the US asked for reassurances that China would adhere to its commitments to open its markets under the World Trade Organisation, which it joined in December, including lifting restrictions on bio-engineered foods, which threaten US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) in soybean sales. On Thursday, US Undersecretary for Agriculture J. B. Penn said in Washington that it could take the matter to the WTO if the mainland did not change its rules, which the US says are not based on scientific concerns and are designed to restrict other countries' access to Chinese market. About 70 per cent of US soybeans are grown from genetically modified crops. On Thursday, China's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation announced it would this year cut the categories of goods for which an import permit was needed from 26 to 12. Trade and economics were minor themes during Mr Bush's visit. No business delegation accompanied him and no contracts were signed. 'This is the visit Bush should have made to Beijing after the Apec summit in Shanghai in October,' one US businessman said. 'Apec was about trade and economics, this was about strategic and military issues.' For US companies, the implementation of China's WTO commitments is the priority, especially liberalisation of distribution and trading rights over three years and improved protection of intellectual property. According to Chinese figures, US exports to China last year were US$26.2 billion, an increase of 17.2 per cent over 2000, while imports rose 4.2 per cent to US$54.3 billion. The Chinese media has this week stressed the positive side of economic relations. The Economic Information newspaper said that low Chinese labour and production costs enabled US consumers to buy cheap goods, keeping down inflation. 'In recent years, the quality of Chinese goods has improved, enabling them to be sold at up-market stores. 'The vast majority of Americans cannot live without Chinese goods,' it said.