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'Higher level' view of trade called for

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-04-04 15:06

Wang Mingfeng of COSCO details harm US locations could face in tariff dispute

The last thing that Wang Mingfeng - an executive at a Chinese shipping company that helped the US economy through a difficult time - wants is a trade war.

"We don't want any kind of trade war between the two nations; a healthy trade relationship is very important to both countries' economies," said Wang, the executive vice-president of COSCO Shipping Lines (North America) Inc.

"And we hope the US consumers, local residents and local investors can look at the trade relations between China and the US from a higher level (and) offer some constructive suggestions to the local government to avoid a trade war."

When the US was reeling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Wang recalled how COSCO opened a direct service between China and Boston.

"In 2002, due to the economic impact of 9/11, the Massachusetts government sent a letter to our company, hoping we could open a direct vessel service from China to the Port of Boston to support the recovery of the local economy," said Wang, whose company is a subsidiary of China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co (COSCO Group), China's largest shipping company.

"Although back then, we faced lots of difficulties and challenges, we decided to take the responsibility and support the local government," Wang said.

He said his company helped save 9,000 jobs and indirectly created more than 20,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

Howard Finkel, COSCO vice-president, said prior to the tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports announced on Tuesday: "We are extremely concerned because basically, we deal with imports and exports from the United States, so any kind of trade war will affect us both ways. But I'm trying to be optimistic here because I believe that China and the US have a symbiotic relationship where China basically is the manufacturing base of most of our consumer goods, and the US turns out raw material so China can manufacture them."

Finkel said the company is "hoping consumers will actually drive what happens because if we go on to a full-scale trade war, you will see the consumer products price rise of course, which will hurt US consumers at the end".

Wang said that as trade flourished between China and the Americas, COSCO's business development in the region accelerated.

It also witnessed how trade between China and the US contributed to the development of both nations.

"We started to serve the trade between China and the US since we registered our first US company in California in 1982," he said. "Since then, our company has contributed directly and significantly to the creation of local employment (and) brought lots of benefits to consumers of both nations.

"From our own experience, we deeply feel that trade is the cornerstone of a nation's economy, and a healthy trade relationship between China and the US indeed has brought lots of benefits to the US consumers and supported many local residents," he said.

The company now has 26 offices in 10 cities across the United States. It has 22 weekly liner services calling 12 major US ports, connecting the Far East and Europe's Mediterranean ports.

"In each of these ports, we have created, either directly or sustained indirectly thousands of jobs," Wang said.

The company employs 600 people in the US, 93 percent of whom are local residents. He said the company is a socially responsible partner at its US branches.

Wang said that over the past 15 years, the company's cooperation with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), known as the "COSCO-Massport model", has preserved more than 34,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

Captain Wei Jiafu, COSCO's chairman at the time, received an International Business Leader Award from the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade in recognition of the Chinese company's continued support in 2012.

"Our efforts have been recognized by many US local governments and local residents. We proved that Chinese business and trade can make a contribution to the US economy and help create jobs," Wang said.


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