Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / China-US

Enduring corporate ties sustain hopes

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-14 10:13
Share - WeChat

Business relations forged over the decades between Ron Bracalent's manufacturing company and China are so strong that he doesn't "see a couple of administrations tearing that up".

The businessman added: "It's much deeper than that. I don't see our company not dealing with China in 10 to 15 years because of how much we rely on them and how much they rely on us."

Bracalent was speaking during a discussion last week on the impact of strained China-US relations on small and medium-sized enterprises. The event was hosted by the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Bracalent is the third-generation president and CEO of privately owned Bracalente Manufacturing Group, or BMG, a metalwork operation with its headquarters in Trumbauersville, Pennsylvania.

In early 2000s, the company lost a significant chunk of business due to price disadvantages. Bracalente saw then that a lot of his customers were going to China for access to low-cost labor and the huge market. Incorporating manufacturing components from a low-cost region became necessary for his company's survival.

"So, we followed our customers to China, and that's what expanded our business," he said.

Frequent visits

Bracalente made his first trip to China in 2003 with a group of about 60 people representing more than 40 US companies similar to his. Since then, he has visited China more than 50 times. BMG set up a plant in China in 2008 after building personal and business ties, and the company has expanded its business as a result of being in China.

However, when the then-administration of Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese goods unilaterally in 2018, China responded with counter tariffs. "That definitely hurt our business and it hurt a lot of companies here in the US as well."

Then the pandemic practically put all travel on hold.

By this November it will have been two years since Bracalente last visited China. Valuing face-to-face experiences and seeing what's going on with his own eyes, Bracalente said he is hoping to return by the end of this year.

At the discussion, Linda Conlin, president of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, and Gary Biehn, board chair of the center, discussed the region's ties with China from a broader perspective.

"China is the fifth-largest market right now for us, representing on average about a billion dollars' worth in export sales alone," she said.

Biehn said that the center helped to generate 26,000 jobs and roughly 15 to 20 percent of them are related to China.

Like Bracalente, he believes the relationship will continue. "Many of the relationships that have been built between the cities are decades long," he said.

Biehn added: "Since China opened up to the United States, there has been incredible progress.… We are the two economic engines in the world. We have to coexist."

Jing Shiyan in Kansas contributed to this story.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349