Attributable to: James Zimmerman, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China
AmCham China supports the Strategic and Economic Dialogue as one of the essential platforms to increase economic cooperation between the US and China. We hope this year’s dialogue will encourage China to join the US in taking responsibility for advancing institutions and standards in the international economic architecture through measurable and actionable commitments.
The talks cover a wide range of issues, and we hope that they help China move forward on the path of reform, to give markets a decisive role in an economy managed under the rule of law.
In general we hope that the talks will emphasize the benefits to China’s economy of increasing fairness and transparency, rather than retreating into a protectionist stance in response to the economic slowdown.
Moreover, we hope China will appreciate the value of fostering a dynamic, open investment environment, with China feeding its economy with foreign investment and know-how, rather than starving it. As Chinese investment into the US continues to grow, our members note the unequal market access allowed their Chinese competitors. The service sector in particular should be driving growth for China, but is hamstrung by investment restrictions, and we urge China to provide fundamental openings to the market to allow foreign firms to increase their investments in China.
We also hope the talks will include discussion of fair and market-based innovation in China, in particular the protection of intellectual property and increasingly repressive internet controls here. We urge the Chinese government to expressly welcome foreign-invested enterprises as equal participants in ongoing plans including “Manufacturing 2025.”
More specifically, our members are concerned about measures they see as being used against them. Unclear laws and inconsistent interpretation was named the top challenge for members for the first time this year, and 77 percent said they felt less welcome than before. Ill-defined barriers to open trade and investment in technologies, such as references to “secure and controllable” technology, which may be utilized to create barriers to foreign-owned or foreign-origin products or technologies, are a good example of this. It’s also disturbing to see that obtaining business licenses, which should be bureaucratic formality, is also getting harder for foreign companies.
In summary, we hope China will commit to measurable improvements to its economy that will provide strong signals to the American business community its intent to converge with international norms to successfully achieve reform. Without such improvements, and after the recent series of delays and hiccups in the reform, it’s difficult to square these initiatives with China’s expressed desire to be regarded as a “market economy” under the spirit that the WTO rules were developed in.
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