Business / Economy

US companies hoping Xi's visit to remove restrictions

By James Zimmerman (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-23 10:59

US companies hoping Xi's visit to remove restrictions

James Zimmerman, chairman of AmCham China

Indeed, governments around the world recognize the importance of integrating and supporting services in other sectors of the economy-especially for economies in transition or seeking to move up the value chain, as growth of the service sector helps drive an innovation-based economy given that many key service jobs have significant knowledge content.

In addition to being an important component of the US domestic economy, the export of US services is helping develop the sector around the world through the exchange of information and ideas, the application of technological advances in the workplace, and through training and development of skill sets.

Hence, one of the best ways that China can drive its own domestic service sector is to attract and encourage foreign services providers to invest in the market.

Investment challenges

US services companies have struggled with the challenges that impact their ability and willingness to invest in the market.

The Service Trade Restrictiveness Index, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rates China as more restrictive than the global average in every single service sector.

The most restrictive are courier services, broadcasting and air transport.

In a survey we conducted last year, 72 percent of our service member companies expressed optimism about growth in the domestic market, but only 25 percent were optimistic about the regulatory environment.

Restrictions on US service companies could potentially put China and Chinese companies at a significant disadvantage in the global marketplace by isolating China technologically from the rest of the world, and the end result of that may be to limit the country's access to cutting-edge technology, innovation and ideas.

Yet with its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) and the evolution of the free-trade zones, China has a chance to provide a much-needed boost to the service sector and accelerate its contribution to economic development.

We also hope that a bilateral investment treaty between the US and China can be agreed quickly.

As most of the sectors closed to foreign investment are in services, it is here that the treaty can make the most difference.

From AmCham China's point of view, services have no place on the negative list of exceptions to the opening up that the treaty represents.

With a short negative list, this treaty promises to be the most significant development in China's economy since it joined the World Trade Organization.

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