Yesterday in Washington, D.C., USCIB partnered with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the U.S.-China Legal Exchange Foundation to host a Business and Legal Forum on U.S.-China Trade and Investment at the Cosmos Club. A large Chinese delegation, headed by CCPIT Vice President Dong Songgen, included senior executives from Chinese companies, industry trade groups, legal experts and government officials.
The forum, which was moderated by Tad Ferris, a partner with Holland & Knight LLP and co-chair of USCIB’s China Committee, provided a large Chinese delegation the opportunity to meet with American executives and policy makers, share experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities for trade and investment between our two countries. The event addressed a range of business issues, presenting both Chinese and American perspectives on such critical topics as intellectual property and innovation, energy and green growth, and enabling frameworks for trade.
Ferris said that the significant effort that went into this forum reflects the importance of the U.S.-China relationship to USCIB and USCIB member companies. He also observed that the forum reinforced bilateral understanding and channels of communication that help USCIB members, Chinese counterparts, and other stakeholders understand critical issues in this relationship and seek mutually beneficial solutions.
Nicole Melcher, the Commerce Department’s director for China and Mongolia, provided keynote remarks, explaining how the U.S. seeks to help smaller companies tap into the burgeoning Chinese market. She said helping American SMEs export to China is a top priority under the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by 2015.
While SMEs account for more than a third of total U.S. exports, Melcher said, only 10 percent of smaller companies that export are doing so to China. She observed that these companies’ reluctance to enter the Chinese market reflected the uncertainties and risk of doing business there, as well as increasingly aggressive and competitive Chinese companies.
Melcher said the administration aimed to undertake a range of efforts to spur SME exports to China, including a national export marketing campaign, expanded access to financing through the Export-Import Bank and Small Business Administration, and a “one-stop shop” for federal export assistance to promote trade with China.
Melcher also noted the importance of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) which is the primary forum for addressing US-China trade issues. The next JCCT will be held before the end of the year.
Another speaker, He Ning, the minister for economic and commercial affairs at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said the economies of China and the United States have never more closely linked than they are today. Total bilateral trade volume reached $466 billion last year, and is expected to reach a new record high this year, he said, while the two countries have become each other’s second-largest trading partners.
But the relationship is not perfect or free of problems, He stated. With have very different legal systems, there is a need for ongoing exchange of legal knowledge between experts in each country to help Chinese and American executives navigate each other’s markets more smoothly, he said.
USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan praised CCPIT for taking the initiative to propose the forum. “CCPIT has been an important and strategic partner to USCIB for many years,” he said, “and we greatly appreciate the long-term cooperation we have maintained through work on such areas as ATA Carnet and Green Growth.” He said the two groups would work together on a range of initiatives in the future, including a possible forum for USCIB members in Beijing.