AmCham Shanghai calls for more engagement
Updated: 2011-09-24 10:13
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
WASHINGTON - If the United States wants to revitalize its economy and create more jobs, policymakers should focus on increasing the competitiveness of US exports to China.
That's what representatives of the US business community based in China told the Obama administration and Congress earlier this week.
During its traditional annual Washington "Door Knock" trip that concluded on Sept 22, delegates from the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shanghai) met with senior administration officials, members of Congress and leading think tanks to express their views on the China-US trade relationship.
"We try to cover all the bases related to China here and we look at the US-China relationship as a major enabler for US job creation because of the exports," said Brenda Foster, president of AmCham Shanghai.
China is the fastest-growing major destination for US exports and the third-largest by volume behind only Canada and Mexico. Since 2000, the value of US goods exported to China has increased by 467 percent, compared with 55 percent to the rest of the world, according to the Shanghai-based body.
In 2010, US exports to China supported about 500,000 jobs in the US, data from the US Department of Commerce showed.
China has the potential to overtake Canada and Mexico to become the top US export market, according to a recent report by AmCham Shanghai, which predicted that the growth will be driven by China's growing middle class and the expanding consumer base.
Therefore, the organization has urged the US government to take "specific, targeted" action to improve the competitiveness of US exports to China. The recommendations include more funding for programs focused on enhancing export competitiveness, a "robust, results-oriented" dialogue with China on market access and regulatory issues, and ratification of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
AmCham Shanghai has also called for greater support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a relaxed visa policy for Chinese businesses, tourism and student travel.
"We cannot expect to just walk into their offices and change their minds," said Robert Roche, vice-chairman of AmCham Shanghai. "Everyone we have talked to is a busy person, dealing with many other issues unrelated with China. So what we try to do is to educate them, to bring the US-China relationship to their attention and give them our thoughts."
On the controversial issue of the appreciation of the Chinese currency, Roche told members of Congress that while the renminbi remains an important political issue in the US-China relationship, it is not a significant factor for US companies doing business in the country.
On Sept 21, along with 50 US business associations, AmCham Shanghai signed a letter opposing efforts in the Senate to enact legislation designed to pressure China into accelerating the appreciation of its currency.
The delegates said a law that attempts to force China to revalue its currency may be counterproductive for US companies and exports to China, a critical creator of jobs, according to the organization.
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