The United States' economy is four times that of
Japan, but the former's exports to China are only half of the latter.
So what's up? Are Japanese goods far more attractive than American products
said Charlie Martin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China
(AmCham). "All branches of the US Government need to recognize that our failure
to take full advantage of the opportunity that China presents is contributing to
our bilateral trade deficit."
president of AmCham. [amcham-china.org.cn]
Martin made the remarks Tuesday when releasing the chamber's annual white
paper on American business in China.
The paper urges Washington to take concrete steps to improve commercial
relations with China including improving export promotions, visa policies and
export controls or American competitiveness in China would be in jeopardy.
Washington has frequently blamed China's trade and currency policies for its
huge deficit with the country. According to US figures, its trade deficit with
China increased by 24 per cent to US$202 billion last year; China puts the
figure at US$102 billion, using different calculation methods.
Both Japan and Germany have substantial government offices and industry
organizations to promote trade; and the United States ends up ceding market
share to competitor countries because they devote more resources, Martin said.
The paper urged the US Government to significantly expand investment in
export promotion at the federal and state levels with a focus on helping small-
and medium-sized firms sell more products to China.
"Committing more resources and searching for better approaches will greatly
enhance our commercial dialogue, one that has suffered recently from fear,
apprehension, and misunderstanding," said Martin.
US companies will trail the competition in capturing China market share if
the US Government fails to do its job, the paper said.
As China modernizes and its buying power increases, US export opportunities
will increase as many high-end products made in the United States will be
attractive to the Chinese.
The chamber urged Washington to review policies that create uncertainty for
potential Chinese customers, such as tough visa procedures and a restrictive and
non-transparent export control regime.
The visa policy remains a distinct deterrence to "buying American," said
Donald R. Forest, co-chair of the chamber's Public Policy Development Committee
Understaffed consular missions and cumbersome visa process continue to
unwittingly drive potential Chinese customers to the Europeans, Japanese and
The paper said 44 per cent of companies surveyed said they lost "significant
business" while nearly 70 per cent have stopped arranging meetings in the United
States due to worries about potential visa obstacles.
Export controls are another big concern for US companies. Though the Chinese
Government has repeatedly pointed out that it is a key problem in the huge
deficit, the US Government has done little to improve the situation.
AmCham fully supports a targeted and efficient export control programme that
keeps American military technology safe, Martin said however, the current
programme is neither sufficiently targeted nor efficient as relevant rules are
"This costs US firms jobs and diverts business to our competitors," he added.
Many US technology firms feel that the controls do little to protect national
security as the relevant technologies can be purchased from non-US sources,
while their own economic strength is being eroded.