U.S., China business leaders want robust economic relations

From Xinhua News

by John S. Marshall

HOUSTON, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — As the winds of U.S.-China trade tension blow stronger, Chinese and U.S. officials and corporate executives expressed concerns over the negative impact of the trade disputes, expressing hopes for healthier business relations between the two economic giants.

During an economic conference in Houston hosted by the China General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) on Wednesday, which represents more than 1,500 Chinese and U.S. companies, the chamber’s chairman Xu Chen said in his opening remarks that “China and the U.S. are each other’s most important trading partners.”

Xu, who also serves as the president and chief executive officer of Bank of China USA, said that the escalating trade friction between the two economic giants is already reverberating throughout the economies of both countries and worldwide.

“As you are all well aware, the recent tariff dispute has barely begun, but already has caused significant negative effects across sectors in both economies and world markets,” Xu said at the conference called “Chinese Investment in the U.S. — The Path Forward.”

“Cross-border investments have suffered and the increased costs for U.S. manufacturers will eventually be passed down to consumers,” he said. “Nearly every industry leader and commercial organization has lobbied the U.S. government to revise its strategy on tariffs and seek a greater compromise with the Chinese government.”

The CGCC reported in its 2018 annual survey that Chinese investments have created more than 200,000 U.S. jobs, and CGCC members invested more than 120 billion U.S. dollars in the U.S. economy.

Xu also said that over the last decade, U.S. exports to China have far outpaced exports to the rest of the world, with U.S. goods being shipped to China growing by 86 percent, while the growth rate of goods for other countries across the globe only stands at 21 percent.

“During the recent U.S. Trade Representative hearings on the matter, nearly 360 representatives from American companies voiced their opposition to the current trade war, which suggests that the tariff strategy is both incoherent and causing serious disruption to the global supply chains,” Xu said.

In a separate report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), a non-governmental trade group that lobbies on behalf of U.S. businesses, the USCC also expressed its concerns about the tariffs.

The group said in an Aug. 24 posting on its website that the decision by the Trump administration to impose a 25-percent tariff on Chinese imports prompted China to retaliate by levying its own tariffs on U.S.-made goods.

“It will hit American consumers and businesses — including manufacturers, farmers, and technology companies — with higher costs on commonly used products and materials, and as a result, it stands to slow the United States’ recent economic resurgence,” the USCC warned.

Corporate executives also voiced their Concerns about economic damage from escalating trade tension in the conference.

“We have been concerned over the climate of the current trade dispute with China,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.

“It has the potential of very negatively impacting the Houston economy and even impacting our long-term future,” Harvey said.

Charlie Yao, president and CEO of YCI Methanol One, a 5-billion-dollar Chinese petrochemical company in Houston, said the “vast majority” of his company’s employees are based in the United States.

During the conference, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert, who holds office in a county that adjoins Houston’s Harris County, said he and other Fort Bend officials have been working for years trying to attract Chinese companies to his county.

“We have over the years developed a position that says, ‘Fort Bend is open for business.'” Herbert said.

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