AmCham: There's good potential for progress

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-23 06:50

In an interview with China Daily, James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce China (AmCham-China), talks to Jiang Wei about issues related to the second round of the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) between China and the United States.

Q: What does AmCham expect from the SED? What role will AmCham play in the SED?

A: AmCham-China strongly supports the SED because we recognize that this kind of high-level, sustained dialogue provides a critical avenue for fostering mutual understanding and has the potential to yield progress on some of the most contentious economic issues faced by both the US and China.

Although AmCham-China is not an actual participant in this government-to-government dialogue, we have been encouraged in all of our meetings with the US and Chinese governments to share our on-the-ground perspective on the various SED topics, which have been uniformly welcomed as constructive and helpful.

In all of our meetings, we emphasize the importance of engagement between China and the US. We recently took a delegation of 26 AmCham member companies to Washington to meet with decision-makers in the administration and over 50 members of Congress and their staff and to provide our perspective on China-US trade and economic issues.

Our key message was the importance and value of ongoing engagement with China and the need to continue to cultivate what we believe to be the world's most important economic relationship.

Q: What role will the SED play in the trade and economy of both countries?

A: The SED provides both countries the opportunity to work collaboratively and strategically on addressing many of the politically-charged issues that at times obstruct our countries' path to closer engagement and improved trade.

Many of the issues directly affect our member companies, and since these issues do not have simple solutions and require extensive discussions, we recognize that it is in all of our best interests for the SED to be given the time and resources necessary to succeed.

For example, the first SED focused in part on IPR protection, which AmCham recognizes goes hand-in-hand with China's desire to make the transition to an innovative society.

Innovation is critically important for our member companies to remain globally competitive, and we anticipate that China's push toward an innovative society will bring about a greater respect for the legal framework that innovation depends on, namely IPR enforcement.

AmCham sees synergy of opinions and room for understanding and improvement on this issue, but we also know that this discussion is intricate and will take time to bring to a mutually-beneficial conclusion.

Q: What problems do you want solved in the framework of the SED?

A: Each of the working groups that have been set up under the SED covers topics and problems that are important to solve - important to China, important to the US, and also important to our member companies. These three working group topics are promoting transparency, service-sector development, and easing investments.

In addition, it is expected that the SED will tackle such major bilateral problems as global current account imbalances, capital market reform, China's growth strategy and exchange-rate policy, trade reform, and energy and the environment.

Although short-term deliverables would be welcomed, we hope that the SED will be able to bridge some of the disagreement on these crucial issues and bring lasting reform that benefits our two economies and our relationship in the long-run.

Q: As a representative of businesses in China, what in your opinion should the Chinese government do to improve the economic and investing environment?

A: Overall, we would like to see the Chinese government continue the economic reforms that are leading to enhanced rule of law, transparency and a more level playing field for all businesses operating in China.

AmCham recently released its 2007 White Paper outlining recommendations that both the US government and the Chinese government could implement to assist US companies across a number of different industries.

AmCham recognizes the progress that has been made in the protection of intellectual property rights, but our members feel that greater resources and attention need to be devoted to bolster IPR enforcement and consumer awareness.

As we talk with our colleagues in Chinese business associations, we find that our concerns and recommendations are quite similar.

(China Daily 05/23/2007 page2)

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