U.S. Chamber of Commerce Urges China to Further Improve Trade Agenda

The U.S. business community is hopeful regarding China’s success in implementing ambitious reforms that could create a decisive role for market forces across the economy, foster more sustainable and higher quality growth, and expand commercial opportunities for U.S. companies in the market, according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant.


Brilliant delivered a major policy address on U.S. economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region to the American Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong (AmCham Hong Kong) and Hong Kong Trade Development Council today. He also discussed the U.S. Chamber’s trade agenda and strong support for Trade Promotion Authority legislation in the U.S. Congress and conclusion of negotiations for a high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.


“The good news is that China’s leadership recognises the economic challenges before it and, for the first time in many years, seems committed to pursuing fundamental structural economic reforms—as opposed to tweaks to the current system—to address them,” Brilliant said. “While anticipation for reform increases, American businesses report few improvements in the business climate over the last year, and some areas of noteworthy deterioration such as in the area of antitrust enforcement. However, many of our companies remain optimistic that the U.S. and China will intensify negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty, which could foster significant positive changes to the commercial environment.”


In his speech, Brilliant suggested three additional steps for improvement. First, China should join soon the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement on terms consistent with those of other Agreement signatories.


Second, China should agree in advance of the May Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Trade Ministers’ meeting in Qingdao, China to expand the WTO Information Technology Agreement on ambitious terms.


Third, China should support its expression of interest in joining the Trade in Services Agreement, supported by the U.S. Chamber, with concrete steps that would ensure compliance with existing obligations and advance services liberalisation in its market, including in areas like electronic payment, express delivery, and value-added telecommunications services. 


Forward-leaning steps in these areas would demonstrate a clear commitment to an ambitious outcome in the negotiations.


“This is also a critical time for the U.S. trade agenda,” Brilliant added. “The next step is progress on the major trade talks across the Pacific – the TPP.  The negotiations have entered the overtime period, but a concluded agreement is within sight.  It is now a question of political courage, particularly in Japan. The reality is that every TPP country, including the U.S., has products that are highly sensitive. Japan has been a constructive partner in the rules areas of the TPP negotiations, but in market access, the other critical part of the negotiations, Japan has not been forthcoming with an acceptable offer. The bottom line is that ‘comprehensive access’ is a core principle of this agreement. No country will get an exemption.


“But the first step for the United States is TPA. While a good bipartisan bill was introduced in January in the U.S. Congress, we need President Obama to lead the way on the tough fight on TPA. While the U.S. business community continues to make the case for TPA, we’re calling for President Obama to up his game.”


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