On May 17, AmCham China launched the 24th edition of the American Business in China White Paper (White Paper) which lays out in detail a number of policy recommendations – both cross-sector and industry-specific – for the Chinese and US governments.
This year’s edition weighs in at around 600 pages and contains 38 chapters covering developments over the past year, includes 20 chapters on industry-specific issues, such as agriculture, banking, ICT, manufacturing, healthcare, and real estate; 12 chapters on industrial policy and market access, such as competition law, compliance, procurement, and taxes; and four chapters with a region-specific focus, covering central China, northeast China, Shanghai, and Tianjin.
Also on May 17, AmCham China hosted a virtual launch event to coincide with the release of the White Paper. AmCham China President Michael Hart opened the event with an introduction to the White Paper and its history, and gave an overview of 2022’s key themes.
- Ongoing COVID-19 prevention measures have decreased predictability and increased the costs of China operations
- A lack of regulatory clarity has undermined business confidence in many sectors
- Government-led emphasis on self-reliance is creating additional uncertainty for foreign businesses
- Members remain committed to the China market, but many longstanding business challenges remain
Lester Ross, who also serves as Chair of AmCham China’s Policy Committee, reflected on the current state of the China market. Ross noted that there has been very little change over the years in regard to the legal services market, where foreign firms are still not welcome. As for the larger state of the China market, Ross said that while it is the world’s largest economy, and rapidly growing, there is increasing concern on the part of foreign companies about uncertainty in the market. That uncertainty, he said, derives from a number of factors including China’s tensions with the US and other countries, plus Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ross observed a new buzzword, “friend-shoring”, has emerged to identify the trend of leaning into economic partnerships with allies and friendly countries to increase production of critical products and expand trade. Ross said that the concept of friend-shoring is expect to grow and that US companies will also continue to try to expand and grow their businesses in China, commenting that, “It’s too big to sacrifice.”
Following Ross’ remarks, Bekink added that the trend of rising economic nationalism was apparent even before the pandemic began and US-China tensions escalated. She referred to this rapid slowing down or back tracking of globalization as “slowbalisation.” When asked about areas of possible bilateral cooperation, the panelists agreed that the largest and most apparent are climate change and sustainability, but also added that public health and research presented opportunities for collaboration.
While the event’s panelists represent different sectors, they identified common cross-sector concerns: calls for a more level playing field, data localization and cyber security, and supply chain disruption. Another area of consensus was the role of the White Paper in providing a constructive tool to enhance not only the business community, but promote understanding between the US and China. As Gao commented, “The purpose of the White Paper is not to critique, but to showcase the hard work and sincere suggestions of member companies for the betterment of both countries.” Bernstein added, “The White Paper is recognized around the world, and it serves to chip away at issues of importance, year by year. I am optimistic that with our efforts we can help to provide a more constructive bilateral relationship.” Ross concluded, saying that another fundamental piece to improving the US-China relationship is reinstating people-to-people exchange. Carbary agreed, calling those exchanges “the umbrella that has to be there to support the two countries understanding each other and driving trust.”
All AmCham China members should have received a digital copy of the 2022 American Business in China White Paper, if you have not received yours please email Allison Lapehn at email@example.com. To join AmCham China, please contact the Membership team at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase the White Paper directly, please click here.