Business / Economy

US businesses call for more ambitious reforms

By Mu Chen ( Updated: 2015-04-22 13:44

The United States businesses community has called for more ambitious economic reforms in China, despite solid signs of progress.

In the American Chamber of Commerce in China's annual White Paper released on Tuesday, the industry group urged the Chinese government to improve legal transparency, market access, intellectual property rights and industry standards.

James Zimmerman, chairman of AmCham China, said that while positive steps have been made during the country's transition to the ‘new normal' of slower but more sustainable growth, more can still be done.

“Many challenges have yet not been resolved,” said Zimmerman. “As China develops and as Chinese companies tap into opportunities globally, we feel that much more progress can and should be made.”

The White Paper, drafted by the Chamber's 1,000 members, puts forward policy recommendations for lawmakers across the whole spectrum of sectors operated in by US businesses in China.

A long-standing issue for the US business community has been market access, which still ranks as the greatest limitation on a company's ability and willingness to invest in China.

Hopes rest on the forthcoming China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty, where negatives lists, which outline sectors that are barred or limited to foreign investment, will be kept as short and narrow as possible.

On Monday, China cut restrictions on foreign investment for the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and FTZs in Tianjin, Guangdong and Fujian from 139 to 122. Earlier this month, the first revision of the Catalogue for the Guidance of Industries for Foreign Investment since 2012 went into force.

But despite these efforts by the Chinese government to further open up, sentiment among US businesses concerning the Free Trade negative list and the Catalogue has been one of disappointment, said Zimmerman.

China ranked as the most restrictive nation to foreign direct investment, according to a 2014 index from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In the first quarter of 2015, FDI to China rose by 11.3 percent year-on-year to $34.88 billion. But FDI from the US dropped by 40.4 percent year-on-year to $620 million.

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