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US companies in multiple industries eager to expand in China: trade group leader

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-01-27 01:56

Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, Jan 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of US companies across multiple industries are eager to expand their businesses in the Chinese market, the head of a major US trade group has said.

"I know of hundreds of companies that very much want to expand in China," following the optimization of China's pandemic response measures and increased interactions between senior government officials of the two countries, Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, said during a recent interview with Xinhua.

He added that the companies involve consumer goods, food and agriculture, energy, travel, financial services, as well as manufacturing, especially the chemical industry.

Allen said those industries are overall very competent, bringing confidence to companies that, in turn, are "forcefully" expecting to gain a stronger foothold in China in the foreseeable future. "I think that many of our companies are very positive and constructive and ambitious."

He expects the Chinese economy to register a higher growth rate in the first half of this year than the latter half of last year, as a result of so much domestic demand during the Spring Festival holiday season.

Allen, whose organization represents over 280 US companies that do business with China and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, said he was "very grateful" that senior Chinese government officials he recently held talks with were "very receptive" to calls from the US business community for addressing the challenges they face while operating in China.

Noting that those conversations were "good, candid and straightforward," Allen said they showed a willingness on the Chinese side to address those challenges "in a positive and constructive way."

Allen especially commended the increase in the frequency of direct dialogues between senior US and Chinese officials following the summit between the two countries' leaders in Bali, Indonesia in November last year.

He said multiple crises are spreading across the globe today, ranging from the high inflation in the United States to the food and energy shortage acutely affecting developing countries. "That pressure should really inform decision-making in Washington and Beijing that we need to have economic growth coming out of both China and the United States to relieve that pressure," he further said.

"Now is a good time for dialogue," Allen said. "Now is a good time to realize that we can and we should and we must make progress to continue rapid economic growth and to continue global peace and prosperity. Both governments have a responsibility to their people and the global community to ensure a stable economic environment going forward."

The best way to achieve broad-based and inclusive prosperity as well as high-quality growth, Allen said, is through "enhancing trade and investment" between the United States and China. "Both China and the United States are prosperous because we are open countries."

The current situation where cross-border travel between the United States and China is still restricted worried Allen, who said that the two countries reissuing 10-year multiple entry visas or making visa applications easier for potential travelers could be "a great place to start" for normalizing people-to-people exchanges. He added that increasing the number of flights between the two countries is also something that's urgently needed.

Allen was opposed to the notion of economic decoupling between the United States and China, arguing that steps should instead be taken to "re-couple" and -- within a narrow set of industries -- de-risk the two economies.

He said while certain industries do require the diversification, or "de-risking," of supply chains so as to avoid overreliance on "one single point" of source of supply, the vast majority of industries where Washington and Beijing trade with each other are those where free flow of trade should be encouraged, so that "both sides mutually benefit."

"It is really not wise to consider wholesale decoupling, for which we will pay a very high economic price over time," Allen said, adding that even for the technology sector, "a better job" could be done "to narrow the definition of national security and allow greater technology, talent and capital flows between the two countries."

For industries where there are national security implications, Allen's suggestion is that the two countries engage in diplomatic dialogue. Massive subsidies for the high-tech industry "will be very wasteful," he said, "and so it would be far more efficient and effective to sit down and discuss the problems that we face."

Comparing the China-US relationship to a basketball game, Allen said "both teams need a good defense and a good offense." Over the last few years, efforts had been concentrated too much on defense, making the game "not great right now."

"We could do much better," Allen said. "And the people of both countries deserve that."

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