I would like to express our appreciation to President Xi, Vice Premier Wang, Councilor Yang, and their colleagues for welcoming us to Beijing. I would particularly like to thank Vice Premier Wang.
He champions China's interests while working intently on building a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive bilateral economic relationship with the United States.
Since the United States and China first established diplomatic relations 35 years ago, the economic relationship between our two countries has grown beyond what anyone could have imagined in 1978. U.S.-China trade exceeded $520 billion last year, 200 times trade at that time, which was less than $3 billion. We meet for the sixth round of the S&ED with the common goal of advancing economic opportunities for our workers and companies.
As the world's two largest economies, we both depend on an open global trading system in which workers and companies can compete on a level playing field. It is in our shared interest to foster productivity growth through research and innovation, to protect intellectual property, preserve open markets, and to build a more stable global financial system that is less prone to crisis.
In their historic meeting at Sunnylands last June, President Obama and President Xi agreed to build a bilateral relationship defined by practical cooperation on areas of mutual interest while constructively managing differences. Their commitment marked an important inflection point in the U.S.-China relationship--a chance to work together to establish rules of the road that will mutually benefit our two nations, the Asia-Pacific region, and the global economy.
It is the responsibility of great nations to rise to this challenge and I am confident that both countries have the necessary agility and resolve to achieve the vision of our two Presidents.
In the United States, the U.S. economic recovery has continued to strengthen in 2013. Over the past 52 months, American businesses have created over 9.7 million new jobs, the longest period of job growth in our history. And June's employment numbers mark the first time since January 2000 that we have seen total job growth above 200,000 for five straight months.
The expansion is expected to strengthen further this year as private-sector demand increases, fiscal drag lessens, and household balance sheets and the housing market continue to improve. Of course, the great recession was deep, and there is still work to do, but we continue to see a strengthening recovery in the United States.
Our economy and our people have once again proven their resilience and determination.
China is in the process of undertaking major economic reforms, recognizing that future economic growth requires a fundamental shift in economic policy, as laid out in the Third Plenum in November of last year.
We welcome this commitment and China's economic growth. A prosperous China that grows in a way that is consistent with international rules and norms will contribute to the strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy.
We support China's efforts to allow the market to play a more decisive role in the economy and rely more on household consumption to drive China's economic growth. Moving to a market-determined exchange rate will be a crucial step. And we look forward to working with China as it deepens financial reforms and becomes more integrated into the global financial system.
The United States and China combined comprise almost half of the world's GDP. The U.S.-China bilateral relationship will, in large part, help shape the 21st century, and it is critical for us to continue building on our areas of economic cooperation and working together to tackle our challenges. We do not always agree, but our strong common interests are far more important than the individual challenges that we confront as a part of our overall bilateral relationship.
The Strategic and Economic Dialogue has led to important, tangible results for both sides, and I am sure that we will continue to make concrete progress during this sixth round.
We look forward to working diligently, cooperatively, and sincerely over the next two days as we address the challenges that we face.